On this refurbishment and expansion scheme, user engagement was the key for Adam Walker. He minimised disruption to the existing school, which remained in operation through the five phases of delivery, by subordinating the construction logic to the needs of teachers and pupils.
Realising that lack of space meant the school would need to keep possession of certain areas for longer periods than allowed for in the original works schedule, he delayed the demolition of the caretaker’s house by eight weeks so the school could continue using it for storage and planning. And he allayed the forebodings of the headteacher following issues with a previous contractor by constantly communicating, and holding weekly meetings to discuss the works and gain 360-degree feedback.
His client focus was impeccable. With a tight budget and the need to take at least 5% of costs out of the project, he made early M&E savings and constantly value-engineered. He ditched a large section of new boundary fencing where a boundary wall was already in place, using the savings to segregate a multi-use games area from the wider playground.
He saw that the straightforward nature of a retaining wall to deal with the change in ground level between the new extension and the existing school would allow it to be built as modular precast rather than poured in situ. It saved considerable time, which proved particularly valuable following the surprise discovery of existing foundations on the extension site that caused delays through the need to redesign.
A major win was his development of a cantilevered beam solution for creating the opening between the classroom extension and the existing hall. It allowed the hall’s steel frame to be removed much earlier, passing the load of the existing roof onto the new foundations and eliminating the need for foundation pads to be constructed in the hall. The time saving meant a disruption-minimising insulated wall could be installed between the existing building and the new frame, rather than a timber hoarding, to cordon off the new-build works.
More than anything else, though, it was Adam’s ability to find ways to advance the works and relieve the pressure on a massive summer holiday workload without impacting the school that won him smiles from the client. He picked off bite-size pieces of the programme early, enabling the structural remodelling works to complete faster than originally envisaged and dedicating the summer period almost wholly to the refurbishment’s internal finishes.