This latest project for long-standing client Eaton House School encompassed a new build block to host modern kitchen and dining facilities in addition to science and design technology laboratories, a nursery and external playground and reconfiguration works.
The project was particularly unique as it was a ‘top down construction’, a value engineered solution by the Baxall team which was adopted due to the close proximity of the neighbouring properties and to build into the programme contingency for poor ground conditions; with a 2 month advantage, the team were able to carry out key excavation and groundworks during the drier period. The top-down solution further enabled the steel frame to be installed earlier to free up valuable programme time in the school summer holiday period for the installation of the new services, dry risers and a sprinkler system.
One of the key challenges of the project from the outset was logistics; the new build Kitchen, Dining & Classroom facility was to be located at the rear of a fully operational school site – 140m from the front entrance and road access. A completely landlocked plot with no vehicular entrance, the site was overlooked by the school and private residences on all three sides. As such, early engagement and a long lead in period for project planning were essential.
Upon contract award, the team established the most safe and efficient strategy to manage the works while maintaining budget and programme constraints and minimising disruption to the school. The project mirrored the challenges faced a few years earlier when the same Baxall team constructed the adjacent landlocked teaching block. The successful solution proved to be the installation of separate conveyor belt systems from the front to the back of the school, enabling the transfer of excavation, waste and materials to and from lorries parked off the main road at the front. All heavier/ large equipment, machinery and vehicles would be transferred by crane from the front school yard over the school (out of hours).
With the old facility removed, the team next installed a temporary kitchen. A complex process, 11 portacabins were manoeuvred into place from the front of the school via multiple cranes. Transferred over the school building, each was forklifted into position and linked to form a temporary dining facility. The next stage was to construct an elevated ‘sky playground’ above the portacabins (thus providing the children with a safe and protected outside space during the project).
The Site Managers maintained daily contact with the school Director providing updates and proactive discussions on forthcoming works/ school events that may prove disruptive. This enabled early stage planning/rescheduling to ensure minimal disruption without impact to programme. School staff, residents, parents and the wider community were kept fully informed and updated through letter drops, newsletters, social media and meetings. Engagement initiatives included a ground breaking ceremony with representation by a Head Child from each of the four schools and the instigation of a ‘timeline project’ to record progress of the project.
The project was successfully delivered to programme with zero accidents and achieving BREEAM ‘Excellent’.