Enjoying the great outdoors
The COVID-19 pandemic is not the only reason why people are spending more time outside and eating outdoors is highly popular. PLEXIGLAS® roofs extend the time people can spend outside – in the gastronomy sector, but also in private homes and gardens.
Meeting outdoors when it’s just 10° C and drizzling: What was the norm in fall 2020 in Germany could once again happen this year depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic develops. This may once again result in people braving the temperatures and weather and sitting outside at restaurants, or meeting on the patio at home. And, looking back, it wasn’t all that bad – quite the opposite, as these outdoor meetings had their own special charm.
“It’s a feeling of freedom,” says Prof. Christian Buer, head of Tourism Management at Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences, in explaining the fascination with spending time outdoors. In his opinion, restaurant experiences will increasingly take place outside. And hospitality coach and trend researcher Pierre Nierhaus is also convinced of this. “Guests will prefer to stay outside rather than sit indoors,” is one of the findings in his Gastro-Trendreport 2021/22. After all, health and safety are the “highest priorities”.
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As soon as temperatures begin to drop, being outside can become uncomfortable. Clever approaches are therefore necessary in order to extend the outdoor season. Many restaurateurs have already acted and made their external areas weatherproof, providing additional space for their guests under fixed roofs, temporary pavilions, gas heaters and vestibules, as well as providing them with blankets.
Germany is home to around 166,000 bars and restaurants. Tourism expert Buer finds that outdoor areas are becoming more essential for success in the sector, and his rule of thumb is to have as many outdoor seats as indoor.
A roof makes a difference
A patio roof made from PLEXIGLAS®, the brand acrylic glass from Röhm, can be of excellent service here. Roofs protect against wind and rain, while simultaneously providing a sense of space. And while umbrellas or non-transparent roofs allow very little light to pass through, PLEXIGLAS® roofs ensure those sitting below can enjoy the light of day. Natural light is a mood-booster, particularly in winter, while the transparent PLEXIGLAS® sheets provide an unimpeded view of the surroundings. Glass is also transparent, but a roof made from it requires a very stable substructure. Acrylic glass is significantly lighter, making it easier and less costly to install.
PLEXIGLAS® sheet materials are proven for flexible indoor hygiene protection applications, such as for partitions in guest seating areas, as they are both light and easy to process. According to Prof. Wolfgang Kaschuba, Ethnology professor in Berlin, the fact that areas have been constructed “at a record pace” using translucent materials is due to the desire for “light, air and freedom”. Transparent surfaces create proximity. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, they also provide safety. People can meet at a bar without a counter, or sit together in groups, separated by attractively designed partitions. “Socializing at a distance will be the next trend” is another finding in the Gastro-Trendreport 2021/22.
Support for outdoor gastronomy
The latest COVID-19 aid package for restaurants and hotels even subsidized investments in roofs or heating elements for outdoor areas. The aim is to enable owners to make “arrangements to temporarily extend outdoor business operations”, as is stated in the bill. Cities and municipalities are also supporting this outdoor trend as a contribution to overcoming the pandemic. Almost everywhere, more tables can be placed outside in public spaces.
“Hygiene, packaging, removal, ventilation and patios remain the general safety factors. Being outdoors is the new lifestyle.”
of those questioned in a YouGov survey in January 2021 stated that the first thing they would do after lockdown is go for a meal.
Those deciding to invest in their outdoor areas do not want to have to start over in a few years. It is therefore important to use durable materials. PLEXIGLAS® acrylic glass remains unaffected by snow, rain or UV light. And it does not yellow, even after decades of use. It is also very low-maintenance. Thanks to a special coating, it also remains clear of algae and moss for a long time,
Fixed roofs – No problem on private property
A patio really becomes an oasis of calm and comfort when it is cozy and warm. However, fabric umbrellas do not retain warmth very well, which is why a fixed roof is a better choice here, as it retains the heat better.
PLEXIGLAS® multi-skin sheets are excellent insulators, as the parallel sheets form air cavities. This ensures that cold air and warm air do not directly interact with each other.
“We will be seeing a lot more permanent roofs here too,” says tourism expert Buer. A fixed roof also has the benefit that owners no longer need to move furniture around. “Permanent roofs on private property are often approved quickly if they are open on all sides,” says Buer. Tall plants placed at the sides prevent the warm air from escaping as quickly and also provide a feeling of being on vacation, or in nature. An alternative measure against the weather are mobile vestibules. After all, a cold wind is just a dampener on the mood as constant rain.
Buer is convinced that even sub-zero temperatures will not stop people from meeting outdoors. “We traditionally have Christmas markets and winter wonderlands outside. People want to be outside.”
Pleasant temperatures thanks to PLEXIGLAS® Heatstop
During the heights of summer, outdoor meetings require completely different aspects to be considered. Particularly during midday breaks, people tend to look for a cool place in the shade. A roof construction made from PLEXIGLAS® Heatstop acrylic glass is ideal here. The reflective surface means the air under the roof is warmed up to 75% less than under a double-glazed clear glass roof. Roofs made from the brand acrylic glass can also contribute to health protection, too: They filter the harmful UV rays as effectively as sunscreen with an SPF of 50.
The best of both worlds
A roof made from PLEXIGLAS® acrylic glass can perfectly link interior and exterior areas at home. A patio or balcony have long become far more than just an additional room during the summer, with roofs and weather-resistant lounge furniture ensuring they can be used year-round. “Indoor-outdoor living” is the name of this new era.