New consortium plans modular primary schools

A new consortium plans to develop a range of standardised offsite solutions for schools.

The Seismic consortium is managed by construction consultant Blacc and is funded by public body Innovate UK.

Other partners include technology-led design practice Bryden Wood, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), and two of the UK’s leading offsite specialists, Elliott and The McAvoy Group.

Around 100 new and replacement primary schools are needed every year in the UK at a cost of £5bn, while every primary school construction project has a bespoke design, is procured individually and is delivered by a fragmented supply chain.

Seismic said its consortium would “radically increase productivity and efficiency” as well as reducing costs and lead times on new schools.

One of the solutions currently in development is the creation of a digital tool to accelerate the initial design phase for new primary schools. The web-based app, which can be used by teaching professionals, will configure a primary school building on a specific site in line with DfE requirements, and using a standardised offsite solution to optimise efficiency.

The Seismic project will also look at how standardised module sizes and steel-framed offsite solutions can be developed, costed and manufactured to achieve greater economies of scale and cost efficiencies for the construction of new primary schools.

Standardised components

Richard Crosby, director of Blacc, said: “By applying greater use of standardisation, our aim is to develop a series of components to enable multiple offsite specialists to achieve unprecedented economies of scale and efficiency in manufacturing. This will bring a higher degree of stability, predictability and transparency to the procurement process – to the benefit of both the client and the supply chain. It represents a window into a brave new world for UK construction.”

Susan Hone-Brookes, chief engineer for construction and infrastructure at the MTC, said: “This project will not only standardise different, market-leading offsite solutions for primary school construction, but it will act as a trailblazer to demonstrate the very latest offsite manufacturing technologies.”

David Clark, head of manufacturing and innovation at The McAvoy Group, added: “This is a truly unique partnership of visionary organisations who are demonstrating the highest level of collaboration, trust and transparency.

“There is also huge potential to take the best of UK manufacturing and apply that to offsite construction to realise even greater cost and programme efficiencies – with no compromise on design – to the benefit of the communities we serve.”

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