The Challenge:

Croydon Council and Orchard Hill College and Academy Trust identified an urgent need for more SEND places in the borough and surrounding communities. A decision was made to create a state-of-the-art facility, specialising in autism, which would address the cognitive, sensory, social, emotional, communication and behavioural needs of students. It was imperative that the classrooms would have the highest level of acoustic performance to enhance the learning experience of the students.

During the second stage tender the project team discovered two large surface water soakaway chambers underneath the footprint of the proposed building. These serve the adjacent housing estate so could not feasibly be moved elsewhere.

Croydon Council had to construct the new community centre adjacent to the school before the existing one could be demolished. The community centre project was due to finish before the school started forming an access road as part of the works. This project was delayed through the pandemic leaving the school site access blocked for 10 weeks at the start of the Kier programme.


The Solution:

The building structure consists of CFA piles with pile caps supporting a suspended RC ground floor slab with a two-storey composite steel frame superstructure. The envelope is a rainscreen façade with large double-glazed windows all supported by cold rolled steel framing and a warm roof system. The building services include a natural ventilation system with peak demand cooling as well as heat recycling.

To accommodate the soakaway chambers the building was moved around 20m northwards and nearly 200 linear meters of precast concrete retaining walls were introduced as close as possible to the exclusion zones around the north of the chambers to ensure that they would be left unaffected by the construction works whilst facilitating required re-landscaping.

To mitigate the potential delay due to the adjacent site’s issues, the project team worked closely with the client and supply chain to provide revised programme and logistics options. These even included testing the possibility of switching all construction access and logistics from the east to the west side of the site.


The Impact:

The new school offers a wide variety of special learning spaces including classrooms, a science lab, an art room, a music room, a food technology room, hall spaces, a library, sensory/calm rooms, soft play, a professional kitchen, supporting staff spaces and a passenger lift. Grounds also include hard surface and grass sport pitches, a courtyard sensory garden, a car park and play areas with hard and soft landscaping.

The whole building is designed to have excellent acoustic performance and intonation in the internal learning spaces to enhance the learning experience of the students. Classrooms include acoustic panels on the walls and high-performance ceiling tiles with an additional layer of insulation above to absorb the sound from services and reflective noise throughout.

In line with the Kier Sustainability Strategy the scheme managed to achieve net zero export of excavated material through focus on cut and fill balance, landscape design, remediation strategy and tight construction control. The demolition recovered over 900 tonnes of material and the overall project achieved BREEAM excellent.


" Addington Valley Academy is a stunning new facility that will make an immeasurable difference to so many of our children, young people and families. This building will enable them to access first-class learning, opportunities and support, near their homes, in an environment that has been tailored to their every need. I’m absolutely delighted to see it open in our borough and look forward to seeing our pupils thriving in their new school. "
Councillor Alisa Flemming Cabinet Member for children, families and learning Croydon Council

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