Exterior of the new classroom at Low Ash

Project Details

Location: Shipley, West Yorkshire
Client: City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Employers Agent: V B Johnson LLP
Principal Designer: City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Contract Type: JCT Design & Build Contract 2016

Project Summary

  • New modular nursery building including washroom facilities, kitchen area and storage
  • Constructed in two phases on an occupied school site: externals and modular build
  • Four modular bays
  • Additional works to playground including the relocation of the school ball court, fencing and railing, hard and soft landscaping
  • Designed around thermal efficiency, reducing building heat loss
  • Floor area 105m2
  • Attractive Artem Cedar external vertical cladding finish
  • Brick plinth with stepped and ramped access
  • Anthracite grey Plastisol fascia with overhang canopy
  • Aluminium windows and doors
  • All groundworks, foundations and drainage
  • Fire detection and intruder alarm installations
  • Completed August 2020
  • Project value £483,000

The Challenge: Creating an attractive, energy efficient building on an occupied school site

Constructing an energy efficient building offsite poses its own unique set of challenges. Learn how Enviro Building Solutions achieved that with the completion of a new modular classroom for Low Ash Primary School.

Serving 480 pupils between the ages of 3 and 11, Low Ash Primary School in Shipley aims to be a caring, exciting and enjoyable place to learn. The school’s motto is ‘Be the best that you can be!’, with staff, parents, carers, governors and children working together, putting each child at the centre of learning to build a positive learning environment for all.

“In a word, professional. This project ran through Covid-19 lockdown, and the team helped keep the work going and dealt with the numerous supply issues that occurred due to the pandemic. It was one of only two school projects that stayed open throughout the lockdown, solely down to the way Enviro handled the project and looked after their employees.”

Jonathan Simcock, Architectural Technologist/Project Manager, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Jonathan Simcock, Architectural Technologist/Project Manager, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council

When the school required additional purpose-built space to house a new nursery classroom for Early Years education provision, modular building methods provided a fast and achievable option with the added benefit of energy efficient construction to reduce building heat loss.

One of the key challenges was to deliver the project on an active school site, with very little space for separation of construction works and the day to day schedule of education within the school itself. Combined with the unexpected difficulties created by an active pandemic, this was a challenging build.

Creating safe spaces on occupied school grounds

With the space for the new nursery building located right in the centre of the existing play area, the team from Enviro Building Solutions detailed a plan for the construction works and site logistics designed around the requirements of the school.

View across the playground at Low Ash to the new energy efficient buildingPhase One saw the team move a hard standing ball court, extending this with perimeter fencing and works vehicle park. All construction traffic and ongoing works then happened within this defined and segregated area, releasing playground space for the school and providing safe passage for pupils and staff through to the adjoining playing fields.

Attractive, robust and practical design

Work could then begin on the foundations for the build, featuring a brick plinth with both stepped and ramped access to match requirements. Four modular bays form a classroom complete with a quiet area, wash room facilities, kitchen area and storage space. Artem cedar composite cladding was chosen for the exterior, providing a strong, durable and attractive solution with no requirements for staining, painting or treating.

Artem Cedar composite cladding on the Low Ash exeriorBefore the install began, Enviro’s site manager championed the case for a time capsule to be buried within the foundations of the building; the school and the pupils got behind this scheme enthusiastically and the resultant records of our current times now lie beneath the foundations for future generations to discover!

Achieving high standards of energy efficiency

Although modular build projects are usually tendered in detail and priced against a given M&E specification, energy efficiency is always a consideration for Enviro Building Solutions. For Low Ash Primary School, the walls of the building are manufactured using steel columns, PIR insulation board (polyisocyanurate), plasterboard and timber.  The external cladding was specified for its aesthetic as well as availability around COVID-19.

The roof and floor of the building consist of steel, exterior grade plywood, rigid flooring insulation (PIR), mineral rock wool insulation and oriented strand board (OSB). Windows were specified by Enviro to greatly exceed the u-Value requirement, including thermal bridging within the frames as well as an advanced glazing specification. Spaces within the building have appropriate passive control measures to limit solar gain.

As you can see from the thermal images below the building is relatively well insulated. The dark coloured roof compared to the buildings around shows that significant heat is being retained. The shiny surface also reflects the cool energy from the sky. Other aspects of the build show heat loss from expected areas, such as windows and doors, but at a lower reading than less well specified buildings. It’s also fair to say that energy efficiency could have been improved further but this would have meant significant additional cost to the client. The materials chosen offer a blend of good value as well as good thermal properties.

Thermal image of the new classroom at Low Ash

The Target CO2 Emission Rate (TER) for this build was 22.7 kgCO2/m2 per year; the actual Building CO2 Emission Rate (BER) achieved was 20.4 kgCO2/m2 per year.

Thermal image of the new classroom at Low Ash from above

Meeting the COVID challenge

This project was completed against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, with all the attendant challenges in terms of sourcing material supplies, labour and meeting social distancing requirements. Enviro Building Solutions succeeded in maintaining momentum for the project with the objective of having the classrooms ready for schools reopening in September, creating much needed additional space for education to resume safely.

Staff, governors and parents at Low Ash Primary School are delighted with the end result and say the new nursery building looks as if it has always been there. The school now offers impressive space and provision for Early Year children.

“We had a modular nursery built for us by Enviro. I am absolutely delighted with the result as it is well-built, attractive and put together with great attention to detail. It looks really smart.”

Fiona Meer, Co-Headteacher