Volumetric Schools - Meeting Demand

10th August, 2018

Estimates suggest we need to build approximately two new schools per day to meet the current pupil demographic demand. Such is the scale of this task, the wider use of offsite techniques could prove to be a perfect solution. Mark Hargreaves, Associate Director at DLA Design explains more.

Whilst offsite building methods are not anything new in the education sector current innovative approaches are seeing volumetric and offsite schools challenge more site-led traditional methods. Investment in R&D and innovation along with changing commissioning trends moving toward pre-manufactured approaches suggest procurement in schools is responding to the much debated recommendations of the 2016 Farmer report ‘Modernise or Die’. This is in recognition that the UK government will offer a presumption in favour of offsite construction by 2109 across suitable capital programmes.

DLA Design have been involved in range of offsite building solutions across most sectors, but most significantly in 2017 they teamed up with modular specialists Elliott Group to successfully bid for the Education & Skills Funding Agency’s (ESFA) £90m Component Primary School Framework (Mod A). Prompted by the Farmer report and the need for greater standardisation, the framework promotes a common approach to the design and delivery for batched volumetric offsite schools. The key objective to maximise offsite production and minimise onsite disruption.

The new schools to be delivered on this framework (see list) cover a range of different forms of entry from 1FE through to 3FE. The schools are either extended or demolished and replaced with new modern modular learning facilities, allowing each to remain open to their communities whilst works are carried out. Given their experience in the schools sector DLA were appointed to design nine schools in sequence within a one-month design programme. Eight have since secured planning permission with the help of planning consultants DPP and work has already started onsite for the first schools in the batch to be completed by Spring 2019.

To deliver the framework DLA created an innovative approach to component-based design. The concept allows school design to be presented as a series of BIM-enabled spaces or components positioned to suit a modular planning grid. The components overlay perfectly onto the modular grid. Typically this allows any component layout to be split into a modular sequence without compromise or the need to manufacture bespoke elements. The design recognises a school can be expressed as sequence of spaces made of repeated components. Being able to replicate the components in this manner – without compromise to area, compliance or adjacency – allowed the framework to deliver an efficient solution, but crucially maintain design flexibility throughout the process.

To continue reading this article, visit: Offsite Magazine Issue 12


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