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12 July 2016

Topping Out Ceremony to Celebrate Construction Milestone for £44 Million School Campus


A ceremony has taken place to celebrate the topping out of the £44 million Riverside Campus - the UK's largest ever off-site education project.  

The Portakabin Group is constructing the innovative three-school campus for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham using a Yorkon off-site solution.

Topping out is a tradition in the construction industry to bestow good luck on the new building when a structure reaches its advanced stages. Portakabin has just craned the last of 387 modules into position on the Riverside site. To mark this important milestone in the project, a steel beam was signed by school children, construction workers and dignitaries, and will later be lifted and secured into the roof of the atrium.

The occasion was also celebrated with the announcement of the winners of an art competition. Simon Ambler, Director of the Portakabin Group, presented four students with vouchers for art equipment and their stunning artwork will now be prepared for permanent display around the campus when the school opens.

Simon Ambler, Director of Portakabin said, "We have today reached another important milestone in this fantastic project. We are absolutely delighted with the progress since the ground breaking just a few months ago, which is a credit to everyone involved.  We are on target and looking forward to the completion of the primary and special educational needs schools in September, followed by the secondary school next year. This campus will provide an outstanding environment for children to flourish and enjoy their learning activities for many generations to come."

Councillor Evelyn Carpenter, Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement at the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council said, "New school places in areas where our youth population is growing is good news for the local community and the borough as a whole."

"I have been very impressed with the speed with which the project has progressed using an off-site solution, and in barely six months, we have gone from ground breaking at the campus to seeing the last modules craned into place."

"Young people will now benefit from an aspirational learning environment and inspirational teaching to ensure they are well educated and realise their dreams."

Designed by Surface to Air, the 23,000sqm Riverside Campus will accommodate 2,645 children from 0-19 years, integrating provision for nursery, primary, special needs, secondary, and sixth form pupils. It will be operated by the multi-academy trust, Partnership Learning. 

The Portakabin Group is the main contractor for this pioneering educational project. The contract was procured and awarded by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham via the Council's local education partnership, Thames Partnership for Learning.  It is funded by the Department for Education.

The scheme is the seventh contract awarded to Portakabin by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and follows on from two earlier phases on the City Farm site near to the Riverside Campus, that are now in use.  The £44 million Riverside scheme is one of the largest education developments now under construction in the UK and will create much needed additional places for one of the fastest growing school-age populations in the country.

The use of a Yorkon off-site solution for the curriculum areas has significantly reduced the programme time for earlier completion of the campus, to the benefit of the local community. This innovative approach to construction allowed the structure to be manufactured in York at the same time as the major ground works were progressed on site.

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

Editor's Notes

1.    Project statistics and key features:

  • The teaching areas for the three schools on the Riverside campus have been constructed from 387 steel-framed modules, craned in over two phases starting Spring 2016
  • The largest module was 18.75m long and weighed 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 160 pupil places and has been designed to promote inclusion across the campus
  • The nursery will have places for 55 children, 16 of which will be for special educational needs
  • The Portakabin Group is using a steel-frame construction for the double height secondary school multi-use sports hall, dance hall, and administration/library building.

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

  • Programme times reduced by around 50 per cent 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
  • 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.