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Primary education
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Massimiliano Crea MCIOB

MID Group

Massi Crea solved the affordability impasse that this school extension and refurbishment scheme had reached. His proactive planning and management of stakeholder expectations delivered a quality building not just £1.2m under the overextended budget but five months early despite a delayed site start. His innovative thinking captured the gains of prioritising value beyond aesthetic appeal, of moving to off-site construction, and of using natural ventilation and heat recovery to eliminate swathes of ductwork.

About the Project

Stonebridge Primary School, London NW10

Client: London Borough of Brent

Contract: JCT D&B

Value: £7.5m

With a previous contractor developing a significantly overbudget scheme for a new teaching block and hall, and refurbishment of the grade II-listed main building, Massi Crea’s input saved this project. Concluding that elements of the build were overdesigned, offering little real value beyond aesthetic appeal, and that the construction methodology was weighing heavily on the logistics costs, he found ways to slash the budget by £1.2m.

Massi’s redefining of the building layout let him revisit the expensive ventilation strategy. He placed all the classrooms on the perimeter of the existing building to equalise the air conditioning requirement. He then equipped each one with its own standalone natural ventilation and heat recovery unit, greatly reducing the amount of expensive duct work required.

But the crucial change was his ditching of a steel frame with precast panels for the new build in favour of timber-framed structural insulated panels. The offsite-fabricated SIPs could be installed from smaller mobile cranes. He removed the new block’s projected second storey, relocating the classroom spaces to the existing building’s old hall as part of the refurbishment programme.

The lead-in times for the originally projected steel frame had stretched the programme, as little other activity in the new build could take place before its installation. Massi’s introduction of the SIP system was not merely faster in itself but also allowed other elements of the build to start sooner. Despite the design changes enforcing a late start on site that missed the crucial works-friendly summer holiday period, he still handed over five months early – and virtually snag-free – as a result.