Children wearing hats

Children need extra special sun care

 Jamie Howard      In

Sun safety is our core value and even more so when it involves children having to brave the notorious Australian climate year in and year out. We understand the importance of adequate sun protection, especially as our nation is the world’s most susceptible to varying skin cancers that begins at an early age.

Shaded cover reduces the ambient temperature of any outdoor area, however an all-too-common oversight we see in our industry is that of shaded areas and shade structures not being deemed a critical design feature. Also, rubber soft fall surfaces, artificial grass, textured or coloured concrete, timber decks and other composite surfacing materials mostly absorb heat creating surfaces that are too hot to touch and often not very inviting to play on.

As a result, properties end up with under-utilised areas that are too hot to enjoy in summer.

Childhood skin safety

Protecting young people’s skins from UVR exposure in Queensland is vital, especially with the UV Index rating being at three or higher all year-round. It is a fact that sustaining as little as five or more severe sunburns in this critical age period more than double their risk of melanoma.

Queensland Government Health puts the responsibility of sun-safe practices on teachers and requires that childhood education and care services have an all-embracing sun protection policy that includes effective shade strategies to assist in cooling the grounds and reducing the heat.

Versatile Structures is a provider of choice for many early learning, public and private schools, colleges and universities and we are proud to share some of our play friendly and safe space projects with you.

Guardian early learning shade structure installed by Versatile Structures

GUARDIAN EARLY LEARNING CENTRE needed a non-permeable shading system over the sandpit areas so their children can play comfortably, but it needed to be set back from the fence as it was an exclusion zone. Our designed, manufactured and installed solution comprised of a retractable PVC roofing system with 100% UVR block out properties and that is waterproof to provide ultimate protection all year round.

Canterbury College shade structure installed by Versatile Structures

CANTERBURY COLLEGE was so pleased with the large shaded outdoor area project we completed previously; they invited us to install a 450 m2 grandstand membrane for their new Olympic-size pool and their smaller 278 m2 pool structure cover. The project had to be completed during school holidays to maximise site safety, giving us just a 4-day week to complete the structure and our team worked tirelessly to build and install the structure over a long weekend.

St Josephs shade structure installed by Versatile Structures

ST JOSEPH’S TOBRUK MEMORIAL SCHOOL was challenged with available space and needed to create multi-purpose areas. Our custom-designed sail provided a cost-effective and stylish way to protect students from heat and UV radiation. The area is now used as an outdoor classroom, an innovative learning space and a place to relax during break times

Carina State School shade structure installed by Versatile Structures

CARINA STATE SCHOOL needed a shade structure for their students to enjoy lunch and for their teachers to have safe space to conduct outdoor learning activities. We used a 3D design to ensure the structure would provide sufficient coverage for year-round and for maximum lifespan, the structure was manufactured using marine grade stainless steel hardware, stitched Tenera thread and dual-layered Rainbow shade.

Sunny Bank shade structure installed by Versatile Structures

SUNNYBANK STATE SCHOOL saved more than half on the cost by recycling existing structures, instead of fronting the bill for brand new sunshades. Their Business Manager, Carol Swee, shared it was hard to find a shade sail provider with the engineering expertise who were willing to recycle 150 m2 of sunshades. After her experience with Versatile Structures, Carol saw value in saving costs overall, with a Shade Assist Program which takes care of all the school’s structural, maintenance and compliance needs.

Taking care of your investment

All too often, we see structures valued up to the tens of thousands of dollars, not surviving the lifetime promised by the initial contractor. Advancements in manufacturing means fabrics these days come with longer lifespans – often around 10 to 15 years at minimum – and when combined with a regular maintenance program that includes visual inspections, annual re-tensioning and occasional repairs caught early, the lifespan and return-on-investment of a shade investment can be maximised.

Shade Assist is Versatile Structure’s industry exclusive maintenance program, designed to see out the expected lifetime of your shade assets, no matter who the original supplier was.


  • Versatile Structures Headshots

    Jamie Howard - Director

    Co-founder and Director Jamie has been hands-on in the shade and steel industry since leaving school. With over 15 years’ experience in shade, membrane and steel projects, Jamie is excited about the design opportunities shade structures offer in the commercial and industrial sectors. Jamie’s extensive design skills give him a competitive edge in situations with technical design complexity. He has won two personal industry awards for his designs, alongside many company-won awards.