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Sustainable school building

Organisation : Alperton Community School

Building Use : Education

Product : Cabins, Modular Buildings

Location : London

Requirement :

A highly sustainable, purpose-designed school building for use by the sixth form was required for the London Borough of Brent, in time for the start of the new academic year.

The building at Alperton Community School would replace a dilapidated and sub-standard ‘temporary' teaching block which had been in use for the past 35 years.

Solution :

Designed by architects, Sampson Associates, a new £1m sixth form centre was constructed by Portakabin (Refurbished) from recycled and refurbished building modules.

This approach reduced the build programme by around 70 per cent and the construction budget by half compared to traditional site-based building methods. It has also dramatically reduced the building's carbon footprint.

Other environmental features of the scheme include:

  • pre-installed timber cladding from sustainable sources
  • natural ventilation
  • energy efficient lighting
  • brise soleil sunshading
  • water conservation devices

Built by Portakabin (Refurbished) to a challenging timescale in just five months from receipt of order, ready for the start of the new academic year, the two-storey building comprises 46 pre-owned steel modules. 

The units were fully refurbished and pre-fitted out off site, significantly reducing the programme time, and were craned into position during the school holidays to minimise any disruption to teaching.

The purpose-designed facilities include:

  • seven general classrooms
  • a fully equipped IT suite
  • study and social areas
  • faculty offices

The use of pre-owned modular buildings is one of the most environmentally friendly methods of construction, and a highly sustainable alternative to new build and to the demolition and disposal of buildings in landfill sites. It generates less than 10 per cent of the carbon emissions and uses less than 3 per cent of the energy during construction, compared to a newly manufactured building of equivalent size (source: Modular and Portable Building Association/Arup).

"Feedback about the new building from students, staff and governors has been consistently excellent, and it has had a very positive effect on morale. It is fantastic to have one dedicated building for the sixth form, rather than having to share facilities as previously."

"We felt Portakabin (Refurbished) demonstrated the best experience and resources to undertake this project, and the sustainability benefits of pre-owned modular buildings were a key factor in our choice of the approach. We aim to educate all our students about the importance of recycling, and this is an excellent way of demonstrating how the school is helping to meet the green agenda with its own actions."

Maggie Rafee, Head Teacher at Alperton Community School

"We are very pleased with this building. Initially we were sceptical about whether the pre-owned approach could deliver the quality we aspired to. In reality, you cannot tell the difference between this and new build."

"The project also demonstrates how the addition of architectural elements such as timber cladding, brise soleil and an entrance canopy can enhance a building, successfully satisfying planning requirements as well as the needs of the school and the community."

"The new sixth form centre has been delivered at half the cost of traditional new build and with a miniscule carbon footprint. We would definitely use the Portakabin (Refurbished) approach again."

Colin Sampson, Principal Architect at Sampson Associates

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