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George St Primary School, Hamilton: Using modular prefabrication to breathe new life into a tired, old school building.

The Challenge

Replacing the tired, 60-year-old Block A of Hamilton’s George St PS offered Pretect the opportunity to showcase all the benefits of a permanent modular school building, as the project was to proceed while teaching and learning continued in the adjoining classrooms!

The school’s detailed design brief included:

  • a general-purpose learning area,
  • school library,
  • staff and admin offices,
  • reception area,
  • secure storage areas,
  • staff lounge and amenities,
  • DDA compliant student amenities,
  • a first aid room and
  • staff work spaces … all of which had to fit back into the space left by Block A’s demolition, improve travel connections between the existing learning areas and give the school a new, inviting front entrance.

Pretect’s Response

Pretect’s response to the design brief reflects George St Primary’s expectations regarding the administrative, amenity and 21st Century Learning needs of their students. It provides a contemporary update incorporating larger, more flexibly used learning areas to cater for the variety of teaching practices and collaborative learning valued within the school community.

The expressed need to connect and build relationships among all students is reflected in how the new construction fits with and links the existing facilities; “opening up” the school and giving a natural flow to school life.

Pretect created a clearly delineated entry to the school; beautified with plantings, incorporating an access ramp and external deck offering a meeting space and transition point to the internal admin offices. School visitors are directed into the supervised Reception/Admin area which functions as a processing checkpoint and waiting space. The layout allows for further “child-safe” security measures such as a glazed “air-lock” holding visitors within the reception area whilst still permitting confidential access to the Principal and Senior Staff offices.

The admin facilities now house larger, interconnected work spaces for the School Leadership team with direct access to, and visual supervision of, the internal learning areas. The Principal and Senior Staff offices are designed to work in tandem; allowing for confidentiality of data, interviews and select meetings within a secure environment.

Larger staff meetings are now catered for via the multi-functional Staff Work Space adjoining the Staff Lounge. This area also has the capacity to house after hours community meetings and small gatherings and would accommodate the numerous network meetings hosted at George St PS.

The new central GPLA opens into the new Library and existing Middle School spaces, creating a large teaching and gathering space for whole school and community events. In keeping with the school values of organisation and strong positive relationships, this provision encourages regular collaborative learning opportunities and builds the connectedness across all school cohorts.

The refurbishment of the existing spaces remaining after the demolition work includes provision of storage for specialist teaching resources, a Withdrawal Space for intervention teaching and spaces where students can withdraw to work individually, away from their classmates, whilst remaining under supervision and within contact of their teachers. Opening up these learning spaces allows for over-flow when team teaching and accommodates other collaborative learning practices where class sizes can be increased or reduced as determined by student needs.

Extended eaves on the elevated roof section, soften the natural light and ventilation entering the new spaces via the North and East facing highlight windows. Internal acoustic treatments and the oblique wall and ceiling angles are used to reduce reverberation and enhance the appealing spaciousness of the building.

The Benefits of Pretect’s Solution

Pretect’s superior design exceeded the school’s expectations, providing flexible, adaptive learning spaces with a welcoming “Wow-factor”.

The ingenious method of merging a modular building seamlessly into the existing, conveys a sense of permanence while aesthetically complementing the school’s existing insitu-built facilities.

While the prefabrication of the new modules was underway in Pretect’s factory, the demolition of Block A and the installation of the new building took place during successive school holidays, meaning school learning programs continued, uninterrupted.

When the Principal saw an opportunity to enhance an outside deck area with stepped bench-seating, Pretect efficiently prefabricated the revised framing and delivered it to site with the next transport of modules. The originally supplied decking was laid over the new frame resulting in a more effective outside space, at minimal cost and without any time delay – unlike “traditional, on-site” variations!

The George St Primary Community are delighted with their new building which was supplied on time and within budget. Why not let Pretect’s experience and modular expertise make your educational vision a reality?

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