Solving the School Places Crisis with Modular Construction


In his second blog, Richard Daw, Associate Director of Lungfish explores how modular and offsite construction have evolved and now offer permanent, suitable solutions.

The UK will require an additional 366,000 primary school places by 2020 and offsite construction using modular technology, combined with true collaboration throughout the industry, can make this happen.

As an architect and designer who has been involved in the education sector throughout my career, I’ve seen how offsite construction and modular technology have evolved to provide a permanent and suitable solution.

As a practice with a diverse nature, we've fully embraced the benefits of the volumetric offsite industry and have made it a key part in the success of our business. We also think it's vital to solving the school places crisis in the UK.

We love to take an education-first approach to designing schools – constantly striving for better, more efficient and smarter schemes. And modular construction is helping us do just that.

Richard Daw, Associate Director of Lungfish

The modular industry has moved on dramatically over the past few years. For education projects working to Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) standards in particular, it has become the ‘go to’ approach for efficient building. For the last five years, we’ve worked with many offsite providers through a fully immersive process – combining construction efficiencies with clever design.

Through our development of pre-designed products, we’ve been able to work out the best adjacencies - how each space relates to another and how the building itself relates to the site, as well as interrogate user flow diagrams and make clear and uncompromised decisions outside the constraints of a live project environment.

By designing in the background, solving all the problems and streamlining the process as much as we can, when a live project is won, we’re already over half way to completion. Offsite modular allows for standardisation, but with the use of component-led design, you have the flexibility you need as well. Standardised modular design is not as rigid as people think – as long as the components are there, education facilities can be varied in design, using a number of different combinations.

Why wouldn’t a client want confidence in buying into a process and a puzzle that has already been solved? It’s been my experience, and certainly that of our team, that modular design offers our clients peace of mind when it comes to the quality of a new modular school building. Modular can provide a design solution that meets the area brief, satisfies all regulations and is compliant with Government standards. And above all else, it’s conducive to a seamless experience for the client.

We have delivered 46 projects from concept to completion in under two years and the only way we could have achieved this was through offsite modular design and construction.

Richard Daw, Associate Director of Lungfish

28 classrooms delivered in six months. Designed, planning approved, costed, built, occupied.

As architects, we’ve challenged and embraced the use of modular construction. Our extensive research and development along with consistent delivery in this industry has resulted in our firm stance that it is the solution to commissioning and delivering projects quickly and on budget.

However, for it to be fully embraced will require all invested parties to get to know the modular industry - We need buy-in from the whole marketplace. They must all learn how beneficial it can be if we are to get anywhere close to hitting ambitious Government targets.

In the meantime, Lungfish will continue to advocate for offsite design and construction and help deliver the school places the UK so desperately needs.

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