The McAvoy Group has constructed a new 630-place primary school offsite for Concordia Academy in Romford which was delivered as part of an £8.2m design and build contract.
The 2,972m2 three-form entry free school has created an exemplar learning environment for local children, reflecting the academy’s vision and ethos, increasing parental choice, and providing a valuable facility for the community.
Funded by the Department for Education, the school is operated by REAch2 Academy Trust – the largest primary-only academy trust in the UK.
The use of a McAvoy offsite solution for the project allowed the development of a highly constrained brownfield site. The new building is just 1.5m from the site boundary to the front elevation.
Commenting on the new school, Raheel Akhtar, headteacher at Concordia Academy, said: “The new school provides much needed primary school places for the local community in Romford. It has created an inspiring environment for high quality education provision, and an outstanding school to help every child realise their highest aspirations. Our children are benefiting from plenty of space in the teaching areas, there is lots of natural light and the main hall is a good size with excellent acoustics.”
Offsite construction offers clear benefits for the delivery of new education facilities. On this project, the solution from McAvoy enabled the development of a very restricted and challenging brownfield site. It delivered programme benefits because the construction work was progressed offsite in the factory while groundworks were put in place on site. Speed of construction is key when the demand for school places continues to rise.
The new school is helping to address the urgent need for additional primary places in the South East. The London Borough of Havering has seen a significant increase in birth rates and this is projected to continue. The local population is set to rise by 11.2% by 2021, further intensifying the pressure on school places.
Designed by Blue Sky Architects, the Concordia scheme has curriculum areas organised in clusters of three for each year group, and with a linear band of classrooms either side of a central corridor. The teaching spaces are designed to be flexible, allowing adaptation to support future modes of curriculum delivery or advances in technology.
Facilities include a music and drama studio, main hall with adjacent smaller hall, 14 classrooms, full catering kitchen, activity room, small group learning rooms, staff room and administration offices.
The design solution maximises the external play space within the site and the landscaping has created a positive external environment to reflect and support the school’s educational needs. There is a hard-surfaced games area for high-energy play; an informal outdoor learning area with tensile fabric canopy to provide a shaded area; a garden space with raised planting beds, and a dedicated, secure reception play area along the southern elevation.
The contemporary design for the new school combines strong lines, bold geometric shapes and a palette of materials that includes red brick, timber-effect cladding, render and high levels of glazing. Elements of colour provide bright accents to reflect the school’s corporate identity and emphasise the architectural features. There are brick and rendered bays to the curriculum wing, with full height glazing to the recessed areas which allow light into the break-out and circulation spaces.