Covered Outdoor Learning Areas

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COLA: Covered Outdoor Learning Area

Large span steel structures that transform your outdoor space and give you all-weather use of your sports courts, eating areas, and more.


AMU Compliant Steel COLA

What is a COLA?

Steel COLAs are permanent shelters most often used in school environments. The term ‘covered outdoor learning area’ is pretty generic and could be used to describe any outdoor space protected by a shelter, but thanks to a large government investment in 2007, the term COLA has become synonymous with large steel structures in schools!

COLA Covered Outdoor Learning Area

Common Applications.

COLAs are most often constructed over multipurpose sports courts, or in quadrangles/courtyards at schools as they are one of the most durable all-weather shelters available. As a large span steel structure, they also work very well for outdoor eating areas and other large spaces. Steel structures can also be designed for areas like covered walkways and bus stops.

AMU Compliant Steel COLA

COLA Sizes and Styles

COLAs typically span anywhere from 10m wide to 50m wide, however due to the way they are constructed they are almost limitless in size.
Along with the area they can cover, the ability to construct them with a curved or gable roof makes them a great option where sports grade clearance heights are required.
Traditionally these structures are designed as a rectangle as this is the most efficient layout however, as all Greenline structures are designed in-house, they can be customised to best fit your space.

There are three main styles:

Gable – this is the classic COLA shape

Curved – this shape is sometimes referred to as a barrel vault and is a modern take on the more traditional gable style.

Skillion – a flat or angled roof steel structure

Custom steel structures for schools. This is also known as a School COLA.

Choosing materials for your structure

Aesthetically, one of the main aspects of your COLA will be the roof cladding (external layer). This is typically constructed from Colorbond which comes in a range of colours. If you choose to add skirts (see more on this under ‘endless possibilities’ on this page) to your structure, these are usually constructed from the same Colorbond cladding as the roof. The gutters and downpipes can either be matched to the roof colour, or you can choose a contrasting colour to create a two-tone feature.

The other main aspect of your COLA is the steel work. There are two main finishes for columns

  • Galvanised – a highly durable raw silver/grey finish
  • Colorbond – also very durable and comes in a range of colours.

Skylights and Infills

  • Depending on the range of skylights you choose from, these can come in clear, white, or blue. The same material can also be used to create end infills. Choosing to add Skylights and Infills can give you even greater flexibility in how you use the space – for more details see the ‘Endless Possibilities’ section further down on this page.
Custom steel structures for schools

Added Benefits of a steel structure:

  • Improve the longevity of your artificial turf
    • Artificial turf can be up to 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. Over time this can lead to the surface breaking down from UV over-exposure. Covering this turf not only makes it last longer, but also makes the space much safer for staff and students using the area at the height of summer.
  • Flexibility in scheduling lessons and sporting events in the area
    • Remove the stress and frustration of having to reschedule sport lessons and activities at the last minute due to rain or other inclement weather. By covering your sports courts and activity areas you gain all year-round access to your facilities, whatever the weather!
  • Community Use
    • Covering your existing facilities can make it an attractive area for community use, outside of school hours.
  • Bird Proofing
    • Bird proofing is a simple and effective way to reduce the amount of maintenance and cleaning needed for your structure, as well as making it a healthier and safer environment for students and teachers alike. It is also required to meet some state government compliance regulations.
    • As we all know, prevention is much better than cure! Unlike bird spikes or bird netting, your COLA can be designed so that it does not contain any roosting locations at all, completely eliminating the issue as well as any ongoing maintenance needs that go along with netting or spikes.
steel cola structures

Endless Possibilities:

Adding some (or all!) of the following features to a traditional COLA can transform your space into a functional and practical multipurpose facility.

  • Skylights and End infills
    • Opting for Skylights and End Infills is an easy way to get even more use from your space. The added access to natural light will mean you can use this space on even the most cloudy, overcast days. Natural light gives students the feel of being outdoors without exposing them to unhealthy amounts of UVR.
  • Artificial Lighting
    • Adding artificial lighting to your structure gives you the option and ability to host evening games and events in the great outdoors. This is especially important if you plan on having out of hours community usage.
  • PA System
    • Be heard above the noise! Incorporating a PA System into your structure is an excellent way to make it more functional for both games, assemblies, and events.
  • Post Pads
    • Improve the safety of your space with post pads on the columns to minimise the risk of students colliding with metal surfaces. Don’t fill out more paperwork than you have to!
  • Sound proofing/absorbing
    • Steel can produce a lot of echoes and sound reverberance when in use. To minimise this, sound proofing can be installed in the .
    • Synthetic grass court surfacing is also effective for further absorbing noise
  • Side Skirts
    • Side Skirts refers to adding sides that come vertically down (typically about a metre) along the edges of the structure. They minimise the amount of driving rain that can enter the space and maximise the duration of shade coverage throughout the day.
  • Sporting Equipment/Accessories
    • Sporting equipment like basketball and netball hoops can be integrated into your structure to eliminate unnecessary posts, making the space safer and more versatile. For multi-purpose spaces, hoops can be retractable to allow full use of the space when the hoops are not in use.

What is a COLA?

How much do COLA’s cost?

Common styles of School COLA's.