Awarded under the Kent Construction Framework, Baxall successfully delivered a state-of-the-art science building as part of the modernisation of The Lenham School, replacing end-of-life facilities and creating a new showpiece building. The original scheme was a 2-storey traditional build designed to accommodate 8 science laboratories, prep rooms and associated stores and toilets. By changing this to a Modern Method of Construction (MMC) solution, Baxall created both price and programme savings. The proposed new-build site was a disused tennis court being used as an overflow carpark.
Following appointment for Pre-Construction Services, Baxall reviewed the proposals and revised the scheme with the design and construction team to fully explore value engineering (VE) opportunities. BIM was employed from the outset as a tried and tested collaborative tool to share design information with all parties. Early stage VE highlighted that an MMC STREIF system would enable the efficient and timely delivery of the new science building. The off-site MMC approach also presented the opportunity to review external materials and offer further savings to the project without impacting on quality; changing the first-floor level from vertical, corrugated black metal cladding to a mid-dark grey render not only softened the appearance but also offered impressive programme savings as the panels came prefabricated from the factory.
BIM – in conjunction with the MMC approach – compressed the construction period and ensured a high-quality build at all times. Meanwhile close collaboration with the DfE on its approach to sustainable school buildings set project targets from briefing through to building in use, including Net Zero Carbon and biodiversity gain.
One of the biggest challenges for the team was ensuring the works did not impact on the daily operations of the school, which remained in full occupation throughout project delivery. By splitting the project into 2 phases, Baxall not only minimised disruption to pupils’ learning but also avoided the need for temporary accommodation during the construction works. Phase 1 included the construction of the new science block with associated hardstanding and parking, while Phase 2 saw the demolition of the existing science block and associated soft landscaping.
In line with Baxall’s commitment to Government Soft Landings approach, Baxall’s Site Manager actively engaged with the client, facilities management (FM) and end users from the onset of the project through to completion. From pre-construction, the team collectively agreed upon the information required at handover including Building Handover Manual content, user guides, commissioning and training. The school was involved in all design sign offs to ensure understanding of the building systems and how they were installed, while technical staff were invited to attend design workshops, witness systems’ installation, and have the opportunity to ask questions. They were also part of the commissioning process and attended training carried out by the specialist sub-contractors as well as training on how to use the Building Handover Manual and User Guides.
Working within a live school environment meant close liaison with the school was essential to ensure safety was maximised. From the outset, Baxall’s Site Manager proactively engaged with the school and school’s representatives to plan operational and safety strategies that worked both for the school and Baxall, with monthly progress meetings and regular workshops held to review and sign off certain project details. The Site Manager also arranged site visits to enable school staff and pupils to view and understand the building as it was under construction. Regular site visits were also organised for the school’s FM team to ensure competent understanding of the installed systems and service routes, to ensure future FM teams will maintain the building’s function as designed.
In keeping with Baxall’s steadfast commitment to community engagement, students from all classes were invited to a viewing area to watch the STREIF panels being lifted into position. Furthermore, the Site Manager (joined by current apprentices) hosted a careers presentation with Q&A session for Year 11 pupils interested in a profession within construction, addressing specific opportunities for women in the industry. The project also achieved impressive KPI targets for employing a local workforce and apprentices.
With a Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) score of 41 out of 50 and rated ‘Performance Beyond Compliance’, Baxall proudly delivered the impressive science building successfully and safely (with an 8-week programme saving) to the delight of the client team, VIAT school management and pupils.