The Challenge:

The Grove is a school for autistic pupils in Haringey, London run by Heartlands Community Trust and funded by the Department for Education. The aim was to provide high-quality specialist facilities in a new school for autism with students having access to skilled teachers, therapists and professionals who all work together to ensure that each student would have a bespoke learning programme tailored to their specific needs.

The scheme follows the theme of providing separate zones (both internally and externally) for activities and groups of students. Internal spaces are segregated by floor and sections of the building with secure zoning and different colour themes. Externally, colour and texture are used to identify the zones. In addition, the design incorporates play items to be provided by the Trust such as sunken trampolines, fitness equipment, swings and roundabouts.

The challenge for construction was fitting and remodelling a robust brick building built in 1904 with changes of level into a modern specialist school facility. This was on a tight budget, meeting Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) requirements and a programme of completing the refurbishment in 12 months.

The Solution:

We created a fully coordinated school and independent adult learning faculty for children with severe autism within a tight budget and the constraints of an existing building built in 1904. The solution was careful space planning, creating educational zones without the need of extensive alterations to the façade for planning and local neighbourhood reasons.

The construction phasing was divided into three sections; West Wing, East Wing and Central Core with all three areas progressed concurrently. Works on site commenced through the soft strip of the partitions, ceilings, joinery and remaining fixtures and fittings. Extensive temporary works were required throughout to provide support to the structure which allowed major demolition of the load bearing masonry walls. New structural steel beams were installed, seated on new pad stones that were formed into the existing masonry load bearing walls. Following the removal of the existing mezzanine floors we also cast new floors so that each storey height created level platforms throughout the school as well as incorporating a lift into the structure.

The fit out works commenced with the services and partitions to each wing immediately following the completion of a floating screed throughout.  With the partitions erected this allowed the services drops to be installed along with finishing trades including flooring, carpentry, painting, furniture, fixtures, and equipment and decorating.

A fully designed heating and ventilation strategy including Natural Ventilation with Heat Recycling (NVHRs), radiators and Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHRs) were linked and controlled through a Building Management System.

Our quality procedures required a military-style series of inspections and sign off of all works was an ongoing process throughout the build & commissioning phases up to handover. The site team used an online electronic snagging programme which allowed each subcontractor to be notified immediately complete with location, snagging item and photograph.

The Impact:

This new school now provides 104 additional places for low functioning and high functioning students locally. The Grove also offers better value for money than the previous expensive out of Borough provision.

The Grove provides first-class facilities to inspire excellence and support inclusion, giving stability and continuity to all young learners. It gives the school’s team the confidence to work alongside parents and carers to support the wellbeing and progress of their students whilst sharing best practice with other schools within the Trust.

Helping environmental impact, Kier took part in a community wood recycling scheme and recycled over 15 tonnes of wood. The site team organised regular controlled site visits for the staff and pupils to show progress and provided an insight into the construction of the building.

As part of our CSR commitment we grew tomatoes that the local community could pick, we also donated and erected a picket fence around the allotment grounds and carried out regular tea and biscuit mornings with the neighbours.

" A great end product. The project team have worked really hard to accommodate the school needs and complete the works to a tight programme. The finished product is of a very high standard. "
Victoria Carruthers Project Director Department for Education

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