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School for the future

Leicester Grammar School is moving out of the city centre to a new suburban location.

The decision to use steel for a new school in Leicester allowed the construction team to meet very tight deadlines, as well as lending an important degree of flexibility to the structures. 

FACT FILE: Leicester Grammar School
Main client: Land Securities Trillium
Architect: Pick Everard
Structural engineer: Pick Everard
Main contractor: Norwest Holst
Steelwork contractor: Caunton Engineering
Steel tonnage: 800t

Leicester Grammar School is relocating from its present city centre location to a new suburban purpose-built premises at Great Glen.

Caunton erected 800t of structural steel during a three month programme.

Steelwork for the school has recently been completed by Caunton Engineering and the project is scheduled for completion in time for the September autumn term.

The new school consists of three separate steel framed buildings, a main teaching block, a sports hall and a pavilion.

The two-storey teaching block will contain a library, 14 science laboratories and a lecture theatre, a music school and recital room, a drama studio, an assembly hall to seat 900 people and a refectory that will accommodate 450 diners. The new premises will accommodate 1,250 pupils,
and includes a linked, but self-contained, junior school complex which is relocating from nearby Evington.

Tony Goodman, Contracts Manager for Caunton Engineering, says the interesting aspect of the teaching block, as far as steel erection is concerned, are the hubs or fingers which protrude from the main structure. There are six of these in total, five housing classrooms and one, the smallest, will be used as an administration block.

“Each looks very similar, but their pitched roofs slope in different directions and internally they are all structurally and architecturally different,” he says.

The complex nature of the structure, as well as a very tight timescale, were the main reasons for choosing steel as the framing material. “Steel allowed us to meet very tight project deadlines for design and construction, crucially achieving a watertight envelope in an advantageous time while maintaining an acceptable economic balance,” explains Pick Everard Project Partner Duncan Green.

Pick Everard has used steel on a number of other school projects, and Mr Green adds: “The whole process with a steel frame was much, much faster – from procurement, through to getting the skeleton up and the roof on. It also provides a degree of design flexibility, not available with other materials, for future redevelopment.”

The Sports hall contains a 25m-long swimming pool

A distinctive feature of the hubs is that each has a different grid pattern to cater for their unique classroom configuration and layout. All of the hubs will house a different teaching faculty and they each require a different number and size of classroom.

The school’s new sports hall contains a six- lane 25m-long swimming pool in one half of the building, while the remainder of the structure contains a gymnasium, a dance studio, six badminton courts and changing rooms.

“Over the swimming pool we had to erect 30m-long beams, the project’s longest members, to get the necessary clear spans,” explains Mr Goodman.

Meanwhile, the project’s third structure is a pavilion which contains changing rooms and an upstairs club house and viewing platform. This structure will serve sports taking place on the adjacent 75-acre playing fields. This two-storey building has a pitched roof and a balcony which wraps-around three of the elevations. A row of feature columns along the fourth elevation, which also houses the pavilion’s entrance, provide an architectural feature. These fabricated columns are 150mm x 150mm box sections.

The large playing fields include two floodlit all-weather pitches, hard tennis/netball courts and football and rugby pitches.

Pick Everard says its objectives were to create buildings that inspire the users and blend innovative design and practicality. The buildings are sustainable, affordable, energy efficient, ergonomic and are future-proof to take into account safety and future needs.

A steel frame was chosen for its time and flexibility advantages.

“We are delighted that the plans we developed with Norwest Holst have come to fruition and that they satisfy both the planning needs and the educational requirements of the school,” adds Mr Green.

Land Securities Trillium (part of the Land Securities Group) has provided the funding for the purchase of land and construction of the school. The new premises will be owned by Land Securities Trillium and leased to the school over a 35-year period.

Christopher King, Headmaster & Chief Executive of Leicester Grammar School, comments: “The school is excited at the prospect of its long term association with Land Securities Trillium. This partnership opened up an imaginative means of financing the school’s development to the benefit of existing and future staff and pupils.”

Once the new school is open, Land Securities will work with Leicester Grammar School to maximise the value of existing sites.

Also commenting on the funding of the project Ian Ellis, Chief Executive of Land Securities Trillium, said: “We are always looking to become involved in more socially responsible projects where we can use our skills and financial strength to benefit the community.”

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