School Building Goes Green With Sustainable School Made Offsite

A new school building has been completed for Worcestershire County Council. Built off site by Portakabin subsidiary, Yorkon, the scheme is believed to be one of the most sustainable modular education buildings in the UK.

The project at Bewdley High School and Sixth Form Centre is also the first modular school building to use biomass heating and the first to incorporate such a complex and low energy passive ventilation system.

The modular education building was manufactured off site at the Yorkon production centre in Yorkshire, and 60 steel-framed modules were delivered to Bewdley School where they were craned into position, with windows and partitions pre-installed in the factory. This approach improved quality control and reduced the programme time for this a challenging project to less than six months.

The new facilities were required following a major reorganisation of education services in the county, which resulted in an additional intake of 360 pupils at the school from the start of the academic year.

The two-storey modular building accommodates a range of facilities for the school, including 12 general classrooms for languages and humanities, two science laboratories, a creative area and offices. It is connected to a new dance and drama studio, which demonstrates how traditional site-based building techniques can be successfully integrated with off-site construction.

Other design features include:

  • passive ventilation to monitor carbon dioxide and temperature levels in each classroom, and to create a constant change of air within the building without draughts.
  • The selection of the system was in line with the Council's policy to naturally ventilate all its school buildings, whilst ensuring the comfort of teaching staff and pupils and to help improve concentration levels
  • central heating powered by a sustainable 'biomass' boiler to minimise carbon emissions
  • timber cladding from sustainable sources
  • a highly glazed activity studio with high levels of natural light
  • a striking bespoke roof structure.

Commenting on the project, Julie Reilly, Head Teacher at the Bewdley High School and Sixth Form Centre, said, "The new building has provided us with spacious accommodation and room sizes that are appropriate for our learning and teaching needs. It is visually pleasing from the outside and fits in well with the locality. Our students have been impressed with the design of the building and it has helped develop a strong sense of pride in our school and working environment."
"The modular approach is a very good method of construction for schools as it limits the disruption to learning because of the speed of assembly. The building will be easy to expand and the design is sufficiently flexible to meet the changing needs of our students and curriculum development."

Dermot Galvin, Project Architect at Worcestershire County Council, added, "The primary driver for the decision to use off-site construction for this project was time, which was critical to ensure the new facility would be ready in time to take the additional intake of pupils."

"Yorkon offers a superior quality building system and has a keen interest in design, attention to detail and quality of finish, bringing skills to the project, that are not always associated with modular construction and despite the challenging timescale. Their team has added value to the scheme and had the flexibility to meet our specific requirements, which included a number of bespoke elements. The result is a good quality, low energy building, which has met our expectations."

Modular building is a highly sustainable method of construction, which minimises air permeability to improve energy efficiency and lower running costs, and reduces material waste and vehicle movements to site.

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