Successful fabric ducting installation at London’s Whitmore High School

Whitmore High School External View

Whitmore High School sports hall and canteen

It is well documented that poor air quality and high temperatures can negatively affect student performance.  When outdoor air supply is increased, children perform both linguistic and numerical tasks faster and more accurately. The same phenomena has been recorded with a drop in temperature of as little as 3°C.

Both directly and through partners, Phihoda’s work provides direct educational benefits for tens of thousands of students every day through our installations in schools. But it’s not just classroom HVAC installations which deliver benefits to students and staff.

In this case study, we look at the work we carried out at Whitmore High School on their impressive sports hall and canteen.

About Whitmore High School

Based in the London Borough of Harrow, over 1,600 11-19 year old students attend the OFSTED-rated “outstanding” Whitmore High School. Founded in 1974 through the merger of two local schools, it moved to a state-of-the-art new building on its historic grounds in 2010. In 2018, it was named as one of the top 100 over-performing schools in England (source: Mirror).

Under the school’s current leadership, the long term goal is to over-perform – to create an environment which brings out the very best academically, socially, physically, and emotionally for its students. To that end, the leadership saw a real opportunity to deliver real benefits to those students and the staff at the school by installing effective air conditioning in its sports hall and its canteen.

In conjunction with our friends at NG Bailey, one of the UK’s leading independent engineering and services businesses, Prihoda were partners in the design of the diffusers and the air patterns in the installation of the school’s industry-leading air conditioning system.

Both projects brought their own challenges outlined below:

The schools air conditioning and ventilation requirements

Sports hall air conditioning and ventilation presents a number of different challenges, most often because of the required high rate of air exchange. In venues with seating, as at Whitmore High School, the needs of spectators must be considered in tandem with those of the participants, teams, and referees. Temperature and humidity levels were also key concerns for the school. The school excels in badminton and, for this sport in particular, very low air velocity is required in the court area.

For the canteen area, the school wanted a steady and draught free delivery of air across a large area for the comfort of students, staff, and visitors.

It’s also really important to balance the effectiveness of any installation with the cost of running the air conditioning and ventilation systems. With all publicly-funded clients, it’s not just the initial funding pool we have to work around – we also have to be able to make sure the system doesn’t cost too much to run every year.

The solution

For Whitmore School, our approach was to meet all of the client’s required with a carefully-planned diffuser solution with specific attention paid to air patterns in each area.

Diffusers both condition and ventilate air – this creates an even distribution of air flow in the desired directions for both the sports hall and the canteen. Diffusers are also very suitable for low-velocity air movement requirements which the school required particularly for its badminton courts. The very latest diffusers also create very little noise – another essential for the school.

In the sports hall, one central diffuser entrained and mixed room air and moved this towards the walls. At that point, two diffusers, one for each wall, then delivered supply air to the required lower level. At the same time, it moved significant volumes of ambient air to mix and become part of the overall pattern of air. The sports hall now benefits for high air volume circulation and movements at the same time as providing much lower velocity for the badminton courts.

For the canteen, we utilised our own premium polyester material with a view to create 4 half-round diffusers. Those diffusers were placed between ceiling rows in a lay-in-grid pattern. Colours chosen for the material were carefully matched to the colours used across the canteen for aesthetic consistency. Inductive air patterns were created through a mixture of duct-circumference laser-cut perforations laid out in blocks and tiny micro-perforations. Both velocity and air flows were mapped prior to installation using Prihoda’s predictive software.

Blue fabric ducts with blocks of laser-cut perforations on a white ceiling

For both the sports hall and the canteen, we used Prihoda’s fabric ducting solution. Fabric ducting controls the delivery of air in a manageable and cost-efficient way, that is superior to traditional ducting. It’s easy to clean and the way its manufactured means that there is no rapid dust build-up when in use. More and more end clients and specifiers are selecting fabric ducting for their projects because it is energy efficient, able to deliver a uniform distribution of air, and because it is much quicker to install.

Paul Russon, Prihoda’s project lead, enjoyed the challenge of working with the school and NG Bailey to overcome the challenges of the design and installation work for both the sports hall and the canteen.

He said that “the Sports Hall was very high and required for badminton games, creating a long throw but low velocity design – was difficult with multiple air densities at different supply conditions. The canteen ventilation system needed to heat a large space, delivering air over a wide area without draughts”

Contact Prihoda

Prihoda’s unique materials are available in any colour at no additional cost and they benefit from 10 years’ inclusive warranty for both Classic and Premium varieties. They’re non-shrink, non-hygroscopic, flame retardant, and manufactured to ISO4 (cleanroom non-fibre shredding) standards.

To speak to our team about the range of fabric ducting materials we offer together with our additional services for end users and for specifiers, please call us on 0207 866 2496 or email if you’re in the UK. Our ROI customers should call 01 961 0031 or email

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