Making space for longer-term plans

Smart-Space’s instant building solutions give schools time to plan new facilities carefully

Space is valuable in any educational establishment. It’s a constant battle of needs versus budget and resources. However, a growing trend in the education sector is the option of installing an instant building to meet immediate needs whilst longer-term plans can be considered. A temporary structure gives schools the time they need to plan properly, without compromising on the space they need.

The speed at which an instant building can be erected is highly attractive as it takes just a few weeks from initial query to becoming fully operational. The actual build can take place within a few days, usually over a school holiday, until it is completely ready – including electrics and flooring.

Midlands-based Smart-Space understands the demands of instant buildings in education. “We have been installing temporary structures of all kinds in schools and colleges for many years now,” explains managing director Antony Hunt. “The same rules apply whatever the requirement: speed, health and safety, functionality and a swift, efficient build.”

The same rules apply whatever the requirement: speed, health and safety, functionality and a swift, efficient build

Sherburn High School

Sherburn High School in Leeds was the victim of an arson attack which cost the school its sports hall. The new temporary solution, which was installed over a few days during the summer holiday, consists of a large gym where indoor high jump, table tennis, gymnastics and PE lessons could all take place.

A large teachers’ office and two cavernous changing rooms feed off the main entrance hall. Inside, the building has a sturdy, permanent feel. It is light and airy, and its inflated roof means that it is not susceptible to condensation or damp. “We tend to heat the space if it needs it and then turn it off as it maintains its temperature very well,” explains site manager John Wagstaff.

For this project, Smart-Space worked together with a number of agencies, including the school, local council, project managers, specialist flooring contractor and insurance company. This is unusual for Smart-Space, which tends to manage the whole project itself, but the arrangement worked well, and everything ran to schedule.

Sherburn High School also likes to work with UK-based suppliers. Smart-Space ticked the box as it uses British-made components, sourcing everything as locally as possible and employing its own team of people for the build.

Coundon Court School sports hall

Mount Street Academy

Another example is Mount Street Academy in Lincoln, which needed a new school hall. The traditional Victorian school typifies many – with all kinds of extensions and building work added on over the years. A legacy of the old building was that its main hall needed substantial renovation, which would mean it would be out of action for several months.

A Smart-Space solution meant that the school could enjoy a replacement building until the work was completed. It is used for PE lessons, daily dining and after-school meetings.

Access to the available plot at Mount Street was a consideration. Situated in a leafy, residential street with parked cars and limited vehicle access, the building was delivered in sections and built on-site efficiently and without disruption to the neighbours.

Smart-Space has many years of experience working in the education sector and has noted a rising trend in the installation of skills buildings or workshops for more practical subjects where unobstructed, open spaces lend themselves well to the subjects being taught. Practical lessons are ideally served through a dedicated instant building, especially where there is potential mess and noise levels are high.

On a practical note, the buildings are usually made of 40mm micro-rib panels, air inflated roofs (excellent for insulation and heat retention) and pitched on a concrete base – with no need for expensive footings.

If schools or colleges are operating within tight space parameters, it is worth investigating the possibility of a temporary solution. With just a week’s notice to dismantle and take it away, it might be just what you need.


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