Standardised school build solution drives defect-free delivery through pandemic


Laing O’Rourke hands over Orchard Hill, a 230-place school delivered defect-free, within 54-weeks using its standardised school solution.

The school, in Middlesex, will provide facilities to children with Special Education Needs (SEN) or who require an Alternative Provision (AP) setting. The building was handed over to Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust on Friday 8 April.

Orchard Hill was constructed over a 54-week programme using Laing O’Rourke’s standardised school solution and with the expertise of the company’s inhouse supply chain. The solution draws on experience from previous school projects and uses a ‘kit of parts’ which are designed and manufactured off site, and then delivered to site for assembly.

This standardised solution alongside early engagement with Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust and the Department for Education allowed the team to reduce the initial two building footprint to one building, providing a more cost-efficient programme. Using precast elements has also assisted in reducing lifecycle costs of the completed school, with lower running costs for energy, repair, and maintenance.

Laing O’Rourke’s Centre of Excellence for Modern Construction (CEMC) manufactured the precast concrete elements which form the main structure of the school building, and Crown House Technologies Manufacturing produced the modular plant rooms which were lifted into place and commissioned by a dedicated team of MEP engineers.

The PRIDE Academy and Skills Hub were delivered for the Orchard Hill Trust through the pandemic with no impact to the construction programme.

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I’d like to thank the Laing O’Rourke team and our supply chain for their continued hard work and dedication. It’s always an achievement to close out a project defect-free, particularly when it was delivered through the pandemic.

“Using modern methods of construction was key to delivering a robust and enduring school building in a safe, expedient manner as it allowed us to improve the quality of the elements by taking their manufacture into a controlled environment. It also meant that we were able to continuously engage school staff in the build. The simultaneous assembly of the precast frame, façades and our Smartwall modular partitioning components allowed us to build the school floor by floor, so staff could see the layout of the teaching areas almost immediately. The one-team approach harnessing structures, MEP and fit out experience was fundamental to successful delivery.”

Mike Elliott Project Leader, Laing O'Rourke
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It’s great to see Orchard Hill completed and to hear the positive feedback from the school staff who have been training on site for the last couple of weeks. The school is a perfect example of how our standardised solution can take the learnings from past projects to create a robust product with certainty around programme and quality.

“While the solution is standardised, Orchard Hill school is a bespoke building to meet specific needs. Our solution enables us to standardise the invisible parts of the build, but visible parts can be easily customised with a range of façade and internal finishes which can make for some really interesting designs.”

Clare Emery Education, Science and Research Sector Specialist, Laing O'Rourke
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I would like to thank Mike Elliott and his team at Laing O’Rourke for delivering Orchard Hill. The trust have been handed over 2 schools built to a high quality and which will provide some much needed places within Hillingdon.”

Michael Frain Project Director, Department for Education

While the school building has been handed over, Laing O’Rourke will remain on site until September to demolish the remaining school and complete the landscaping and external play areas. This includes the reinstatement of the land adjacent to the school which was turned into a temporary road to divert construction traffic away from direct routes used by residents. This was implemented in a commitment to keeping the local community safe.