Having completed three school extensions as part of Phase 1 of the Government's Sure Start Children's Centre initiative, Derby City Council needed to build three more Children's Centres in Phase 2, before the March 2008 deadline. Children's Centres provide multi-agency services for families, incorporating everything from childcare and health services to employment support and training.Solution :
Councillor Sara Bolton, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at the Council, says: "In Phase 1 we were under a great deal of pressure to get some major building work finished in a very short timescale, trying to manage all the variables of traditional building projects around the needs of operational school sites.
"For Phase 2 we wanted to be certain that we could comfortably complete the projects on time. For that reason we decided to create stand-alone buildings, rather than school extensions, and to choose modular buildings, which would give us much more certainty, reduce the risk of unexpected delays and keep disruption on site to a minimum.
The council inspected a number of existing Portakabin Lilliput nurseries and was impressed by the standard of facilities provided. It was clear that these high-quality buildings, designed around the needs of children, could deliver an outstanding solution for the three proposed sites.
Portakabin worked with the architect, Morrison Design, who had been involved in the project from the outset, helping the council to identify suitable sites and drawing up plans for the three Children's Centres. Portakabin was able to adapt the architect's designs to suit its modular building system. The buildings were designed to plug gaps in family provision in the earmarked areas of Derby, incorporating wrap-around care for three to four-year-olds, training rooms, midwifery rooms, crèches and community rooms.
Portakabin also worked closely with main contractor, Hallam Contracts, to ensure the buildings were delivered and installed on schedule. All three buildings were craned into position and set up in a matter of days, without disturbing the nearby schools.
Nigel Herrington, Contracts Manager at Hallam Contracts, says: "We developed a very good working relationship with Portakabin, based on honest and open information sharing. Consequently the project ran very smoothly and won a lot of praise from the council, who were exceptionally happy."
Morrison Design was again involved in developing the external appearance of each building, working in collaboration with Portakabin. Each building was finished off with either a brick skin or rendered blockwork to blend in with the school buildings. Two had stylish bull-nose fascias and one had a pitched roof, to complete its traditional appearance.
Councillor Bolton adds: "We found it a very easy project to work on, thanks to excellent cooperation from the contractors, architect and Portakabin. Everything was made so straightforward for us and we are extremely happy with the finished buildings. Everyone has been surprised and impressed by the quality of the facilities - and the end users are delighted. It's the attention to detail and the thought that has gone into the finishing touches that have impressed people the most - details like the finger guards on the doors to protect children's fingers. The buildings will be operational very soon and we can't wait to start using them."
Derby City Council was so delighted with all three new buildings and the service provided by Portakabin that it gave the company three 100 per cent scores in subsequent customer satisfaction feedback. Such overwhelming endorsement demonstrates the success of the Portakabin commitment to customer service.