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Could Education Building Programmes Achieve More by Being Different?

When we are aiming to create inspiring and energy-efficient learning spaces the last thing we need is to be constrained in our ambition and creativity. But school building projects often involve a fragmented process that cascades risk from one stage to the next. This has not been the ideal environment in which to be bold.

Budgets in education are tight. A conventional approach to risk and margins naturally draws customers and contractors towards the lowest build cost approach. These may not represent the best long-term value when you factor in energy costs, ongoing maintenance and the effectiveness of the learning space. The prevailing risk-averse mentality can also mean that alternative methods and technologies don’t get explored in detail.

A major issue with the fragmented nature of traditional construction is that it makes the procurement process less transparent. Customers could be forgiven for thinking they are buying a collection of functions arranged to look like a project, rather than an integrated solution to their needs. Again, this is not the environment to encourage radical and ambitious design thinking.

A Manufactured Solution

Offsite manufacturing using Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) offers the opportunity to break the mould of cost-driven unambitious design of education buildings. It is a manufactured solution that breaks a building design down to the finest detail, works out how it needs to be put together, and then fabricates the structure in a modern manufacturing facility, ready for rapid assembly on site.

Joining up the process from design to installation takes the fragmentation, risk and uncertainty out of the project. Inspiring designs can be built as envisaged, without the risk of unresolved technical issues and late design changes, which add additional cost and time that projects can ill afford.

The Three Rivers Academy project provides a great example where bold design could be combined with the practicality of meeting time and cost constraints.

Offsite Construction – the Future for our Schools?

The other issue we cannot ignore is the growing skills crisis in the sector. Labour shortages are magnifying the risks when it comes to speed and quality. The offsite process is much less reliant on scarce traditional building skills, which takes another major element of risk out of school building programmes.

The i-SIP System has been deployed successfully on dozens of education building projects, from a few additional classrooms up to complete new-build secondary schools. The integrated solution offers a low-risk route for schools wanting to create learning spaces that match the best in the world in terms of teaching, learning and sustainability.

Take a look at our case studies for some of our other Education projects.