Faithorn Farrell Timms was appointed by The Roman Catholic Diocese of Southwark in September 2016 to provide Employer's Agent services for the construction of two new-build primary schools in South East London, of which St Winifred’s is the first in the programme.
Given that the site could not be decanted and therefore needed to remain in use throughout the works, a modular process was chosen. With this approach, much of the construction occurred off-site and the building was brought to the school in pre-assembled sections for final connection and fitting out. This shortened what would have been a two year project if built traditionally to under 9 months.
The new construction enabled the amalgamation of two sites, Infants and Juniors, onto a single site which now accommodates 450 children plus staff.
As part of the project, a full commercial kitchen was provided together with a nursery, multi-use games area/all weather “MUGA”, new double height hall and sensory room.
The design had been taken to planning stage and was approved by the Local Authority in April 2016. We were appointed as Employer's Agents to progress this into a construction contract and project manage its delivery on site.
We carried out a due diligence exercise and initiated exploratory works and surveys of the site to establish the ground conditions and availability of services infrastructure. These surveys established that the site was the subject of a V2 bomb during the Second World War after which it was used for prefabricated asbestos housing from 1947 to 1969. Whilst the surface and existing buildings on the site were “clean,” when the asbestos housing was demolished fragments were embedded deep within the subsoil therefore complicating future construction.
We worked with Darwin Group in providing a capping to the ground works and air tests which confirmed that no contaminated materials were released during the project.
The main challenge was both containing heavy construction activities to the school holidays and completing the build before the closure of the Infant site from where a significant part of the school was being decanted. This meant that there was no room for slippage.
The due diligence with site investigations meant that the ground works and provision of statutory services were well defined before works commenced so risk was identified and managed as far as reasonably possible. To maintain programme, the modular units were manufactured and stored away from site in readiness and, for instance, the main Classroom Block was erected from foundations to being watertight over a single half term week. “Lighter” fitting out trades could then run concurrently with day to day school operations.
The modular approach was key to the project success and we worked closely with Darwin Group in the phasing and off-site manufacture of the components to keep the project on time. This, coupled with the pre-construction investigations, enabled the new school to be delivered on time and within budget.