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Modular School Buildings: Why are they the popular choice?

Modular School building plan drawing

Increasing in popularity over the last few years and with big names such as Google, Yale and McDonald’s among some of their main advocates, modular buildings have definitely been in the public eye. Modular construction is by no means a new construction method, but its use is ever-expanding into more and more sectors, warranting further discussion.

We’d previously discussed the top level differences (as well as advantages and disadvantages) of modular construction as compared to ‘traditional’ methods here, but today we’d like to focus on discussing modular construction more specifically, in relation to the education sector.

You may be familiar with some of our previous work (if not, please have a look through our case studies here) but modular school buildings are something we’ve found particularly relevant to a number of our clients. Although the choice of construction method should always be based on the particular requirements of an individual project, below is an overview of the reasons we have found most relevant:

1. The need to fast track school building construction due to the shortage of school places

According to statistics from 2015, the UK’s primary school population is set to rise by 8% and the secondary school population is projected to have increased by 20% by 2024. The situation in London is particularly challenging, with London Council currently estimating 133,000 additional school places (almost a third of the total places required in the UK) will be needed in London by 2018.

Schools are therefore required to grow extremely quickly in order to keep up with the increasing demand for places year-on-year, in areas that can be particularly spatially challenging, such as inner cities.

Modular construction is said to be 50% quicker than traditional methods, allowing schools and suppliers to significantly reduce project timelines, delivering new modular school buildings extremely quickly, sometimes even within weeks of starting construction.

2. Reducing disruptions to day-to-day running of functioning schools and surrounding communities

Modular school building works run simultaneously on-site and in-factory, not only significantly reducing the overall delivery times, but also allowing the modules to arrive up to 95% complete, majorly reducing the time required on-site. Often, modular school buildings are constructed while the rest of the school and the surrounding community are fully functioning, doing away with extended periods of noise pollution and disrupted traffic and ultimately lowering impact on the bottom line.

3. Skills shortages

School places are not the only thing currently in short supply. Workers skilled in construction methods are also hard to come by, meaning extended periods of time spent looking for someone who can ‘do the job’.

In modular construction, the school building is almost completely assembled in-factory, allowing for a consistent and quality-controlled manufacturing process, even in particularly short timelines.

4. Flexibility & Energy Efficiency

Not only can modular school buildings be quickly constructed, they can also be modified, extended, moved and dismantled at short notice. A trait that is particularly useful for expanding schools or temporary school buildings on a new school site.

In 2016, this means that rather than individual classroom extension blocks, entire schools are being made through modular construction methods.

The construction process itself aims to minimise a project’s carbon footprint, with fewer trips required to the site, while (once completed) modular school buildings in 2016 benefit from increased energy efficiency and air-tightness in their final construction.

Whether you’re about to embark on your first modular build or still looking into the option that will be most suitable for your particular project, the reasons for choosing modular construction for your school building are overwhelming. The above are just the few we’ve come across time and time again. So why not take a look through our news and case studies to find out more?