McAvoy builds new 420-place arts primary school offsite
The McAvoy Group, one of the UK’s leading offsite specialists, has delivered a new two-form entry primary school for Ramsgate Arts Primary School, which provides state-of-the-art facilities for up to 420 children to support its focus on the arts.
Part of Viking Academy Trust, Ramsgate Arts Primary is a new free school which offers an exciting curriculum with an emphasis on the arts. Built offsite by principal contractor McAvoy, this bright, modern and spacious building was funded by the Education & Skills Funding Agency. It has created an exemplar learning environment for children from reception to age 11.
Kent has experienced a 25 per cent increase in birth rates which combined with major housing regeneration schemes, has intensified the pressure on local education provision. Free schools are helping to address the shortfall in school places and are enhancing parental choice in the range of education services available to children and young people.
The scheme in Ramsgate is built on a former industrial site, which required extensive remediation and demolition works, and the relocation of an electricity substation, also carried out by McAvoy.
The 2078m2 building is constructed from 46 steel-framed modules which were manufactured and fitted out offsite to reduce the build programme. The units were craned into position in two phases complete with doors, windows, partitions and first fix mechanical and electrical services.
Designed by Blue Sky Architects, the new facility reflects the school’s vision for the arts and will be a valuable community resource. It has a dance studio, general classrooms, main hall, spacious staff room, offices, kitchen, small group rooms for special educational needs, and multi-functional open learning areas.
A key design feature was to have a library running through the heart of the school. This was achieved by organising the classrooms as two linear bands either side of a ‘learning corridor’ which has created additional learning spaces, break-out zones and a focal hub in the centre of the building.
Commenting on the project, Nick Budge, Head Teacher at Ramsgate Arts Primary School, said, “It is remarkable what can be achieved with offsite construction in just a few months. This is an impressive school building and the McAvoy team worked hard to meet our needs. Having the library in the heart of the school has worked really well, creating additional areas for small group learning. Offsite construction is a great solution for new school buildings.”
Winston Alaneme, Project Director at the Education & Skills Funding Agency, said, “Offsite construction is helpful where we are working to tight timeframes. It can also be beneficial for projects in more remote locations, such as Ramsgate, where it can be very difficult to source the skilled labour needed for site-based construction.”
The contemporary and distinctive design theme for Ramsgate Primary features strong lines, bold geometric shapes and a palette of materials which includes render, natural timber cladding and picture windows.
Externally, the landscaping has created a positive environment for children to learn, play and socialise. The entrance plaza has a clear sense of arrival and guides visitors to the main entrance. There is a hard-surfaced games area for high-energy free play which connects directly to the ground floor classrooms. There is also a dedicated, secure play area for reception classes which is designed to be an extension of the indoor teaching spaces with unrestricted access.