Lark Hill Primary School modular classroom extension – The importance of modular construction

Lark Hill Primary School modular classroom extension demonstrated the flexibility and efficiency of modular construction approaches in education. While many will have ideas of the prefabricated huts of the past, the modern modular construction techniques are far better and more environmentally sound than even the current bricks and mortar approaches to building.

The Lark Hill Primary School project was commissioned by Salford City Council, as the school required additional facilities to house growing student numbers. The scope required MTX Education to provide bespoke modular buildings, which included eight classrooms, a break-out area and washroom facilities. The design offered by MTX spread these facilities over two stories.

Lark Hill Primary School modular classroom extensionDetails of the solution offered

In discussions between the school, council and MTX in-house designers, it was decided that the new building should have 28 bays and would be built on the playing fields at the left-hand side of the main school building.

The work commenced in May of 2016 and the project needed to be delivered by the school new year. As the substructure and the superstructure can be developed at the same time, the modular buildings were delivered to site on July 25th. At this point, the mechanical and electrical fit-out commenced immediately. Within 9 weeks, the school was ready for delivery to the school.

An extension commissioned in April and delivered in September demonstrates one of the strengths of modular construction methods. Bricks and mortar construction would have taken at least a year.

The building also included a stand-alone boiler plant, a building management system control system, controlled roof lights, mechanical ventilation system and fanlights above the classroom doors. There was a teacher control panel, as well as CO2 sensors and rain sensors. The control panel also gave the teachers the ability to open and close electric blinds.

The solution offered not only all the facilities to make learning possible but to also enhance the learning environment too. The air quality, amount of natural light in the room and the control over the facilities by the teacher meant that the building helped increase the educational capabilities of the school.

The most significant considerations

When a school requires a building project completed, there are a host of considerations that must be fulfilled—first, the project needed to be delivered on time. Missing the deadline would cause untold disruption to a school that has already timetabled children into the rooms. The bonus of modular construction is that the superstructure is built off-site and indoors. Therefore, the weather does not delay the build. Second, in tradition construction, project managing subcontractors can also cause a delay. However, in modular construction, all the skilled tradespeople are employed by the company. They are on-hand at precisely the point in the process they are required.

Working to a deadline usually means that the costs of the building are kept down too. The council had a tight budget, as well as a strict deadline. Consequently, there was no room for a contingency or overrun of the budget. Fortunately, as the construction model allows for all parts of the process to be mapped out, the finances are much easier to manage.

Another significant consideration is the health and safety on-site, and in the surrounding area. It is not by accident that the modules were delivered to site on July 25th. This is the start of the school’s summer holiday, and there were no students and few school staff on-site. Therefore, there was no increased health and safety concern and the disruption to the work of the school was completely minimised. MTX also organised for several residential roads to be close while the main delivery was brought to the site. Not only did this ensure the ease of delivery and allow for tight deadlines to be met, but also kept the residents safe too.

Finally, the school needed to deliver economic performance into the future. The project not only stayed within an initial budget, but the building also was designed to perform economically and efficiently into the future. There was an air permeability of less than 4.75m3. As well as keeping allergens and pollutants out of the classroom, it also keeps the heat in. Consequently, the classrooms were energy-efficient and cheaper for the school to use.

In short

Lark Hill Primary School modular classroom extension demonstrates the strength of modular construction methods. Built in a short time frame, to a tight budget and with impressive environmental credentials, the council commissioned the project in April, and it was delivered in September.