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Interserve cuts school building costs 25% with pod design

2 Nov 11 Interserve has developed a 'pod' system for school building which it claims will reduce construction costs by a quarter.

PodSolve comprises a series of steel-framed rooms or classrooms that can be fitted together to create a flexible school environment.

It has been developed in a partnership between Interserve, Maber architects, Norwood and Arup.

Podsolve is being used on the E-ACT-operated Leeds East Academy.

The original estimate for Leeds East Academy in June 2010 was £19 million. Following programme revisions the budget was reduced to £14 million; the PodSolve solution beats even this lower figure – it will cost just £13.65 million.

The pods are manufactured from a composite material within a rigid steel frame. These materials and toughened glass greatly reduce noise.

The flexible building style allows for sections of the school to be separated from others, so the local community can benefit from the facilities.

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The pods can fit in with more traditional construction - as is the case in the Leeds East Academy where the assembly hall, science laboratories and a gym form the north side of the building.

The PodSolve school is environmentally friendly, with photovoltaic panels, a well-sealed, well-insulated building, a combined heat and power plant and lighting control systems.

The shape and layout of the school removes the traditional school corridor and regimented classroom approach. This is replaced with the creation of pods which can be moved, added or removed in just five days per pod to cater for changing school requirements.

The building will be delivered in just 60 weeks – using traditional methods, it would typically take up to 80 weeks to construct. The improved building and construction time should help schools make an additional inflationary cost saving.

Adrian Ringrose, chief executive of Interserve, said: “PodSolve is an example of an innovative and intelligent building solution which provides local authorities, schools and the government with a great school environment at a better price. The efficiency and flexibility of the structure is just what our partners are looking for given the current economic climate, and we are delighted that we can cater for this need.”

Helen Lane, principal of Leeds East Academy said: “The flexibility of the school will be hugely beneficial. We can close off the rest of the school whilst opening the Sports Hall, Activity Studio, Drama Studio and the Main Hall to benefit the local community. Furthermore this approach leads to a much enhanced feeling of security for the pupils and, in turn, reassures parents that they are sending their children to a school that will be safe. It’s an amazingly innovative design and the perfect solution for us.”

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