A fast-track solution to help meet the rising demand for SEND places.
Lungfish Architects joined forces with offsite construction specialist, Premier Modular, to deliver a new £2m special educational needs facility at Nethergate Academy, Nottingham – an Ofsted Outstanding special school for children with autism, learning difficulties and disabilities.
The main driver for Nottingham City Council’s decision to use offsite was the essential need to reduce noise and disruption to the children by moving construction work into a factory. The building also had to be delivered to a short programme ready for occupation for the start of the new academic year. To achieve this, Premier and Lungfish continued work on the project throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.
The new purpose-designed facilities have expanded the teaching spaces for autistic children and provide 48 new places.
Designed by Lungfish, and built by Premier, the scheme had to be installed on a constrained site within the fully operational school. Careful logistics planning and traffic management ensured access to the school was maintained throughout the construction programme. Cranage of the modules was also timed for the school holidays to further minimise disruption.
The design of the facility was developed by our team to meet SEND principles. Walls are constructed for impact resistance; sinks and worktops in the food technology room are height adjustable; daylight can be blacked out for light sensitive therapies and activities, and wider corridors ensure wheelchair access.
The 710m2 building was constructed offsite and has high quality pre-installed concrete floors for a robust finish. Facilities include classrooms for key stages 1 to 4, group therapy rooms with specialist multi-coloured lighting, food technology room, occupational therapy, staff room, and a double-height multi-purpose hall for dining, assemblies and indoor sports – all built utilising offsite construction.
Tracey Ydlibi, Executive Principal at Nethergate Academy said:
“It was essential for us to continue the day-to-day operation of the Academy and complete the build with minimum disruption to our pupils. The teams have produced a wonderful, purpose-built facility which will enable us to continue to provide the best possible educational experience and further meet the needs of autistic children with complex needs.”
Commenting on the project, Sam Simons, Team Leader at Nottingham City Council said: “Premier demonstrated an understanding of the issues of constructing a new building in a live SEN environment and performed well. The build quality is good and the new facilities have been well received by the school and everyone involved. We needed a fast-track solution to help meet the rising demand for SEND places.”
“The children at the school have complex needs and site-based construction was not the best way to proceed because of the noise and vibration levels that would then be generated. Moving work offsite and into a factory was therefore a huge advantage. The manufacturing processes of modular construction also allowed the building work to continue safely during the COVID-19 lockdown. It is definitely easier to manage and maintain social distancing requirements in a factory environment than on site.”
Craig Taylor, Director at Lungfish Architects, said:
“Having been involved in the original business case for Nethergate almost five years ago as part of a review for Nottingham City’s SEN requirements, it’s been fantastic to follow the school’s journey from the original concept and business case, through to delivery and completion.
The demand for offsite construction continues to grow and this project proves why. Being able to provide a new facility within short timescales in a live environment, we were able to ensure minimal disruption to the school and its pupils. The Premier building system gives us a high level of design flexibility which ultimately improves the finished building in both aesthetics and functionality, and particularly when creating a learning environment to support SEN. We collaborated on the design with Premier to help deliver a new facility that will undoubtedly prove to be an invaluable addition to the academy and the community.”
Images courtesy of Premier Modular