Department of Education
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What They Said: The UK will need 250,000 new school places by 2020
Construction of Lime Tree was completed in just 19 weeks, and the August 2014 completion of St John’s CE in just 22 weeks
In response to growing demand for primary school places in Greater Manchester, Laing O’Rourke has completed construction work at Lime Tree Primary School in Trafford and has also handed over a new 1FE (one form of entry) primary school in Salford.
To meet the demand for places at Lime Tree, Select Building Solutions, Laing O’Rourke and Atkins delivered a modular solution for Trafford Borough Council. The 1,650m2 build, for 420 pupils, was delivered in just 19 weeks – with the majority of construction works completed during school holidays and the entire project completed in less than half the time a more traditional approach would have taken. The finished project was shortlisted for the 2014 Construction News Project of the Year (under £10m) category.
Select’s Neil Strangeways, leader of building solutions, notes that this speed was integral to the project. “There was, and still is, a significant shortage of primary school places in the UK. Prior to the project, it was identified that the country needed 250,000 new places by 2020,” he says. With the designs life span matching traditional construction methods, the new buildings have helped to secure the future education of pupils in both areas.
Lime Tree is arranged as a ‘village’ of five pavilions set in a landscape that offers many opportunities for exploration as well as shade and shelter. By putting the majority of the circulation space outside – under open canopies – the team were able to make the pavilions themselves larger, with group-working areas at their heart.
Investigating the opportunities that a volumetric build solution offered, and unlike more common ‘Template’ schools, which are constrained by cost and area, Lime Tree’s design demonstrated the flexibility a contemporary DfMA solution provides. “We have been able to break away from templates with Lime Tree, and explore how the pavilions could be easily adapted to suit different learning styles over time – ensuring that the infrastructure would not become obsolete. We have attempted to remove the barriers to future innovation ,” says Neil.
This type of construction will offer hope to primary schools across the country in desperate need of new accommodation to cope with increasing demands for school places; the 58 volumetric units containing classrooms, circulation areas, a nursery, a media room, a library and a food technology teaching kitchen, have been designed to support a potential second storey in the future.
This flexible design for the future is a fitting solution for a school that is itself at the heart of innovation in education – Lime Tree – an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ school, is a National Support School, promoting advances and best practice in educational thinking to schools nearby, as well as visitors from as far a field as China. It’s a beacon to schools in the north of England, and a new building was integral to its ongoing success. That was especially true with its hopes of gaining Forest School status – awarded to schools that stimulate young minds using a mixture of indoor and outdoor learning rather than the traditional classroom-based environment.
Sustainable solution to service growing demand
Although the school was one of Laing O’Rourke and Select’s first modular installations outside London, Select has a long history and expert knowledge of working with these kinds of structures. It is with this expertise that construction of the new St Johns CE Primary school was also completed in just 22 weeks.
Using a unique hybrid steel and precast concrete volumetric design, work on the new school commenced in late February and was completed on 18 August. With Salford’s high demand for primary school places, Select, working in partnership with Atkins, transformed the unused brownfield site into a full 1FE primary school. The design has been sustainable throughout its construction, with a BREEAM ‘very good’ rating.
Neil Strangeways noted: “In just a few months, we’ve transformed an unused site into a valuable space that will be at the heart of the growing local community, and have already received positive initial feedback from our client and local planners.” The eye-catching new structure is also highly flexible, just like the improved Lime Tree Primary School. The school’s spaces have the potential to be reorganised easily at a later date if required, without causing disruption to the structure.
“Both eye-catching designs have created the perfect learning environment.”