Why are schools favouring modular design builds?
The education sector has seen a sharp rise in modular builds in recent years. Western Building Systems' Declan McCloskey outlines the benefits
Posted by Julian Owen | January 31, 2018 | Bricks & mortar
modular-design, western-building-systems, declan-mccloskey, education-sector, cost-efficiency, sustainable-solutions

For many in education, the phrase prefabricated modular buildings rouses memories of temporary cabin buildings that struggled to retain heat, keep out the damp or provide a consistent supply of electricity and running water. This is a far cry from the state of the art bespoke modular education buildings that are appearing across the country. Education authorities are specifically seeking out modular construction solutions due to their superior build-time, cost efficiency and - crucially - potential for off-site construction, their enhancing of a school’s ability to remain operational during term time and radically reduce site disruption.

Construction frameworks within the education sector have become the procurement method of choice in recent years across the UK and Ireland due to their many benefits: ease of use; reduced transaction costs; continuous improvement within long-term relationships; and overall better value for money. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of education frameworks specifically seeking construction companies who employ off-site modular building techniques.

So, why are education authorities increasingly looking for builds of this type?

'Modular building techniques reduce waste on site, as the majority of the build can take place off-site.'

Benefits of going modular

Modular buildings within the education sector have come a long way since the cabins of old and are now considered an ideal learning environment for students. Advances in modular design and finish, combined with contract specifications that are often limited in terms of time-scales and budget, have boosted the demand for modular and off-site techniques.

Design options for modular buildings now include popular turnkey finishes, enabling education authorities to create ready-made classrooms tailored to the specific needs of the school. With this ready-to-go option, modular buildings provide an instant advantage to those who need a cost-effective and bespoke solution to utilise all the space available effectively.

In contrast to traditional building methods, the versatility of modules means that they can be used as a temporary or permanent structure; in some cases this provides options for fully functional school buildings to be removed and reused elsewhere if required.

Similarly, the extended life-cycle of modular units means that they are now available to buy new or recycled, and can be designed to fit into even the most logistically difficult locations.

'Construction frameworks within the education sector have become the procurement method of choice in recent years.'

The future of frameworks

Frameworks establish objectives and targets within regulations, creating an incredibly efficient option for delivering a project on time and on budget. Modular units are thoroughly planned and designed to suit specific user requirements, a vital element when catering to detailed frameworks.

Modular buildings are also created offsite in a strictly controlled factory environment, ensuring the accuracy levels specified are met successfully. This enables urgent school buildings to be delivered faster, resulting in minimum disruption and permitting schools to continue delivering vital services by remaining largely operational.

By promoting increased efficiency, frameworks also lower wastage across the construction life-cycle. Increased regulation of waste has led to education frameworks seeking progressively sustainable solutions, eg incur minimal Co2 emissions, make use recyclable materials, etc. Modular building techniques reduce waste on site, as the majority of the build can take place off-site, where it is easier to control the movement of materials. Also, external factors - such as the weather - no longer have a negative impact on delivery.

Striking the balance

While the benefits of modular building techniques are vast, we recognise that sometimes there is a place for traditional methods too. That’s why, beyond straightforward modular builds, we also specialise in hybrid structures. These buildings bring together modular and traditional techniques to create striking buildings that are unique and will stand the test of time beautifully. 

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