There is much discussion amongst the education sector about how, given the budget constraints and withdrawal of BSF (Building Schools for the Future), the educational buildings of the future will be delivered, let alone meet the aspirations for a dynamic learning environment. And so, increasing numbers of schools and local authority specifiers are looking to modular building to help meet their construction needs, in terms of cost, efficiency and sustainability.
Offsite construction has been widely used over the past 60 years in the education sector and this is largely where the industry built its reputation. Back then, these “portable classrooms” were chosen as they met the challenges of the rapidly growing population in the baby boom years. Now, schools are facing no less of a challenge. With educational budgets slashed, they are looking to meet their obligations to provide good quality buildings that meet the aesthetic and performance requirements of modern teaching methods and that provide environments that are conducive to learning.
The latest hybrid off-site construction systems still offer desirable benefits in terms of speed of construction and quality. However, they have transformed methods of modular construction completely in other respects in that they offer the same design flexibility as conventional buildings with, for example, floor to ceiling glass walls, bespoke building heights and the ability to create a seamless link between existing and new buildings.
With schools now having to reassess their budgetary arrangements and plan for the future, these innovative new methods of offsite construction are continuing to provide the answer to meeting the requirements for aesthetics, scheduling, performance and cost.
An innovative modular approach
Modular building, working closely with UK architects, provides an innovative approach to meeting the design, build and budgetary requirements of the education sector.
The aim is to make the specification process much easier, by providing schools with a dedicated list of building components that meet performance, aesthetic and legislative requirements and are Building Bulletin compliant. These components have been specifically selected based on extensive experience in supplying the education sector. Offsite construction has been providing modular classrooms and fully-fitted schools to the educational sector for over 60 years, and so the industry is ideally placed to move forward with new, sustainable and affordable approaches to building schools, colleges, nurseries and universities.
The principle behind this new approach is that the majority of schools are built with the same components – such as a large span hall, classrooms, study areas, libraries, which often follow the same construction layout. The modular approach approach simplifies their manufacture and reconfigures them to create unique designs. As the whole system has been developed to make the construction of school buildings more affordable, the repetition of standard selected components should lead to a reduction in building costs.
This is an exciting time, and the possibilities that modular building offers schools, colleges and universities means that there are viable options for a more affordable way to achieve aesthetically-designed permanent buildings of the future.
Offsite construction is renowned for its extensive expertise in providing modular buildings for schools and colleges. Its unitary systems have been widely used within educational buildings, as they use standardised system components and quality-assured factory fabrication to create permanent or temporary low-rise buildings. These modular systems are particularly well suited to projects where there is restricted site access, whilst still enabling the creation of a weathertight seal to the permanent building within five days.
The flexibility of offsite construction means that volumetric structures can be combined with unitary systems to ensure that school buildings can have much greater design freedom and are not restricted to a box-like appearance.