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15 October 2015

Portakabin Group Awarded UK’s Largest Ever Off-site Contract in the Education Sector – £44m Riverside Schools Campus


The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has awarded what is believed to be the largest ever off-site contract in the education sector, to the Portakabin Group - a £44 million project to deliver an innovative three-school campus.

The 23,000sqm Riverside Schools scheme is one of the largest school projects now under construction and will provide additional places for one of the fastest-growing school-age populations in the UK. 

The campus will have capacity for around 2,700 children from 0-19 - integrating provision for nursery, primary, special needs, secondary, and sixth form. 

The Portakabin Group is main contractor for this pioneering project. The contract has been awarded by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (LBBD) via the Council's local education partnership (LEP), Thames Partnership for Learning.  The project is procured by LBBD and funded by the Education Funding Agency (EFA).  The architects are Surface to Air and the three free schools on the campus will be operated by the multi-academy trust, Partnership Learning.

Constructed using a Yorkon off-site solution for the curriculum areas, the scheme will accommodate a 10-form entry secondary school, a 630-place primary school, a special educational needs (SEN) school, and a nursery.  It will also offer extended provision outside school hours and for wider use at weekends and in school holidays to contribute to the local community.

Commenting on the project, Roger Leighton, Chief Executive of the multi-academy trust, Partnership Learning, said, "We have had a very good first-hand experience of the Portakabin Group's off-site solutions as our schools currently occupy two earlier phases on a site near the planned Riverside Schools campus.  We have been really impressed with the quality of the finished buildings, the speed of construction, and just how far off-site technology has now advanced."

"The Portakabin Group makes good use of architectural design to the benefit of the users and to enhance the internal environment.  As an example, our strong preference is for 75sqm classrooms which are significantly larger than the 56sqm classrooms required by the Department for Education.  With careful design and planning, use of a Yorkon off-site solution gives us the flexibility to achieve this and for almost the same budget - which is a very key benefit."

Simon Ambler, Director of the Portakabin Group, said, "We expect this project to change the face of off-site construction in the education sector.  It demonstrates really well how Yorkon building solutions can be used to meet the urgent provision of school places - and for a scheme of this scale and complexity."

"It illustrates our capabilities as a main contractor, our flexibility to deliver part of the building at an earlier stage whilst remaining on site, and whilst working to an extremely tight programme."

"We are absolutely delighted that this is our seventh project for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council which is further evidence of the quality of our buildings and the greater certainty and value our services can deliver."

The use of off-site construction will significantly reduce the programme time. The project has been scheduled to complete the primary and SEN facilities at an earlier stage, in time for the start of the 2016/17 academic year to meet the urgent demand for places in the Borough. The rest of the campus will be completed late Spring 2017.

The Riverside Schools scheme is being developed in the Barking Riverside regeneration area, which is close to Barking town centre and part of the Thames Gateway development. Early phases of substantial housebuilding have already been completed with further plans for 12,000 new homes increasing the need for education provision.  The overall vision is for the creation of a vibrant new community with design-inspired public spaces and amenities.

For further information about Yorkon off-site building solutions from the Portakabin Group for primary and secondary education, call 0845 2000 123, email info@yorkon.co.uk or visit www.yorkon.info.

Editor's Notes

1.     Project statistics and key features:

  • The schools will be constructed from 387 steel-framed modules, craned in over two phases starting Spring 2016
  • The largest module will be 18.75m long and weighing 20 tonnes
  • There will be 100 classrooms across the three schools which wrap around the perimeter to maximise natural light
  • The five-storey 10FE secondary free school will accommodate 1,500 pupils and 300 sixth form students
  • The four-storey 3FE primary school will have 630 places
  • The special educational needs school will have 176 pupil places and has been designed to promote inclusion across the campus
  • The nursery will have places for 90 children
  • The high performance Yorkon concrete floor will be pre-installed at the Portakabin Group production centre in York, providing a robust finish for a demanding school environment
  • The Portakabin Group will use a steel-frame construction for the double height secondary school multi-use sports hall, dance hall, and administration/library building
  • The campus will occupy a 6-hectare site
  • Design features:
    • Two five-storey atria in the centre of the secondary school with balconies overlooking the dining and sixth form zones
    • Curriculum spaces that encourage and facilitate a variety of activities including whole class interactive teaching, small group learning and independent study
    • An environment that excites, stimulates and nurtures the school community
    • Large, multi-use spaces for catering, assembly and breakout
    • High quality ICT, media arts and technology facilities
    • Multi-purpose dance, drama and art studios
    • Designated play areas for the primary and SEN schools to encourage free- flow play
    • A two-storey administration building at the heart of the campus which incorporates a large school and community library, a double-height main school reception, and SEN dining hall
  • Programme:
    • Start on site - October 2015
    • First phase handover - Summer 2016
    • Completion - late Spring 2017.

2.     The benefits of Yorkon school building solutions from the Portakabin Group include:

  • Programme times reduced for earlier occupation to help in the rapid expansion of schools to meet the rising demand for primary and secondary education
  • Much less disruption to teaching during construction, which is critical when working on fully operational school sites
  • Columns that are no longer visible either internally or externally, for seamless façades that can be specified with or without cladding to complement or contrast with existing school buildings
  • The facility to fit almost any building footprint, including those designed for site-based construction - reducing design time and resources.

3.     Yorkon and the Portakabin Group are registered trademarks.  Portakabin is a registered trademark which must only be used to refer to modular buildings that are known to have been manufactured by the Portakabin Group.  Please note, Portakabin is not a generic term.

4.     The Portakabin Group is part of the Shepherd Group.