Designed by Bond Bryan Architects, Springhead Primary School is a two-form entry primary school constructed entirely from volumetric modular units to deliver large spaces, architectural features and a landmark community building.
A newbuild school offering both primary and nursery provision, and located and constructed in Northfleet, Kent, Springhead Primary School forms a key part of the new garden city development. Split over two storeys and approximately 2,270sq m, the school can accommodate up to 240 primary school students from Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, and 30 nursery students.
The key challenge was to deliver the school within a tight construction programme and budget but also to provide a sustainable solution of architectural merit that met the high expectations of the local planning authority for the site. The design and construction team were able to push the boundaries of volumetric construction to achieve a very successful design outcome while meeting the budget and programme constraints.
Producing a primary school that is woven into the fabric of the new garden city residential development was paramount. The main entrance connects to an existing plaza and by extension it has been able to connect the school to the existing open spaces and community centre. This enabled a welcoming and inclusive environment which supports the needs of all students. The design is inspired by the Kentish vernacular using a tapering parapet cantilever and high-quality materials to anchor the building within the existing context. Using a cantilever for the first-floor classrooms provided relief to the form, whilst offering an interesting frontage on the principal elevation. It also afforded the opportunity to introduce a lightwell in the centre of the plan, offering a positive effect on the building’s elevation and section.
The volumetric construction method utilised on the Springhead Primary School offered significant time efficiencies throughout both the design and construction of the programme. The need for a high quality and well detailed solution was another driver for adopting the volumetric approach. The limitations imposed by the available space on the site were another reason to choose a volumetric solution. The opportunity to add striking architectural features and deliver a high-quality solution for both the site and the budget could only be offered by a volumetric solution. The benefits offered using volumetric technologies have been vast. Due to the lightweight construction of the project – made achievable using volumetric technologies – embodied carbon in the foundations was reduced.
Improved insulation and airtightness reduced the heating and cooling demands of the building, via the delivery of a highly efficient building envelope. This offered the client lower operational carbon and reduced running costs for the building’s lifetime. As part of the design process, Bond Bryan were able to engage with the volumetric provider Integra to identify areas where the use of a volumetric solution could create energy efficiencies through integrating sustainable technologies in a factory setting.
By working closely with the supply chain, Bond Bryan were able to reduce the project’s energy usage by integrating heat recovery systems into the volumetric units within a factory setting. This ensured a maximum level of efficiency from the final systems without causing any delays on-site and creating better building performance and energy efficiency, whilst also ensuring the project adhered to the overall programme. By doing this, the modular approach helped ensure that the building’s energy performance is heightened, whilst offering the client lower running costs for the project. Also, the fact that the building is built up of clearly separated components makes it easier to recycle at the end of its life, giving greater whole-life sustainability.
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