Top marks for Pretect’s architect designed, modular school building.

Pretect’s recent project at Cobram Secondary College illustrates the terrific outcomes achieved by working with an architect and a modular builder. Armed with a well-developed Educational Brief, budgetary entitlements and a clear idea of their future directions, the school Leadership Team first met with Pretect, in October 2019, to establish a concept design.

Pretect’s Builder, Architect and Educational Advisor listened, asked questions and clarified the essential elements of the project which included:

  • A new Admin area,
  • Staff and student amenities,
  • Canteen,
  • Home Economics facilities,
  • A VCE Centre &
  • Demolition of an asbestos contaminated school wing.

An initial concept, including all aspects of the brief and indicative costings, was returned to the school within a fortnight. Simultaneously, Pretect as an experienced educational constructor, had audited the schools electrical and hydraulic services as to serviceability for the expansion … and the results weren’t good! A whole school electrical supply, fire service and some sewer upgrades were required. The budget had nothing to spare and some real ingenuity was needed to meet both the community’s expectations and the project timeline. A classic dilemma and the perfect opportunity for Architect and Builder to synergise.

A whole range of clever architectural magic was applied, a combination of experience, expertise and technical wizardry to refine, assess then recompute until every last detail was accounted for.

  • Manipulation of travel ways to save and gain learning space.
  • Reconfiguring office and admin spaces while maintaining and enhancing their functionality.
  • Realigning the building’s orientation along with some angles, access points, and window orientation that kept visual sightlines and natural light, but at reduced building costs. The realignment also kept the initial façade and street appeal but sought more economical treatments in areas now abutting existing buildings.
  • Re-evaluating how the initial brief defined certain processes and coming up with alternate designs that facilitated a multi-functionary approach to the procedures and operations of everyday school life.
  • Re-thinking the preferred learning modes of the senior students and engaging with teaching staff to accommodate student/staff collaboration through a variety of innovative small group and individual workspaces.
  • Above all, preserving the overall footprint size of the original concept, at a reduced building cost, without compromising on the educational intentions.
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From the Builder perspective, Pretect was busy recalibrating the original engineering specs for the revisions, continuing the site audits and preparations, revising the costings and exploring other building processes which could contribute to cost savings and the all-important time frame constraints.

As a volumetric modular prefabricator, Pretect supplies the building to site as a number of modular “building blocks”. To save time, it was essential that most of the internal fit-out was completed in the factory; cabinetry, tiling, plumbing fit offs, electrical and data. Once assembled on site the final painting, floor coverings, connections, external decks and access were completed. While that work was happening inside the building, the landscaping, demolition work and services upgrades could be done either simultaneously or in the window of the school holiday break.

Despite the unexpected intrusion of the Covid-19 crisis, Cobram SC moved into their new facilities during third term of 2020 without any building-related disruption to their operations during terms 1 and 2. Such a pleasing result would not have been achieved with a traditional insitu build where, too often, design problems are left to be “resolved onsite”.

Pretect modular prefabrication gives precision in design, construction, delivery and costing so no need to worry about costly variations, weather and supply chain delays that invariably lead to cost and time over-runs.

This achievement was recently acknowledged by Education Minister, James Merlino, months before the scheduled finish date of December 2020. How good is that?