Nov 23, 2019 Last Updated 10:52 AM, Aug 14, 2019

Pushing the boundaries of off-site design

Published in Product Innovation
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Rachel Davis, Business Development Director, discusses Premier Modular Limited’s latest school project, which once again pushes the boundaries of off-site design.


New Islington, Manchester formerly The Cardroom Estate was considered one of the worst places to live in Manchester. It was therefore identified as one of the English Partnership’s ‘Millennium Communities’ to be rejuvenated and regenerated. The aim was to create the best place to live and work in Manchester, with the aspiration of creating a community by consulting with the existing residents as a starting point and then introducing the new.

The Masterplan of the site was to link the existing Victorian canals with a new canal to form a focal point, adding inspiring and innovative architecture would be the key to creating a sense of place. A mix of homes to buy and rent, shops, health centre, restaurants, a park, marina and a school will all be provided.

Premier Modular, working as a specialist subcontractor to Conlon Construction, is currently building the new Free School in New Islington, Manchester, providing a primary school for 420 children due to open for the September 2016 term. The new building and site had to meet the overall objectives of the regeneration Masterplan, to be inspiring, innovative and fresh but also to meet the visions of the school. These included the preparation of pupils to inspire them for life, a greater depth of learning, co-operative learning, open-mindedness, an enriched school life through arts and sports and enhanced health.

Premier was selected due to their capacity and flexibility to deliver from their 22 acre UK manufacturing hub, ensuring that the tight delivery programme was met. Selection also hinged on Premier’s position within the industry as a design led solutions provider. Although now widely accepted that off-site construction can provide high quality, fast and disruption free buildings, the challenge would be to create this eye-catching, innovative building. Premier Modular pride themselves on delivering design solutions that push past the normal limitations of modular, using a combination of their in-house design team and experienced external partners.

To achieve the aspirations of New Islington School, Premier worked with their architectural partners Vaughan Architecture & Design to create this visually stunning building with many unique features:

  • Angular external walls with cladding, giving a very modern finish including feature sun shades and balconies
  • An inspiring welcoming entrance with over sailing roof
  • Picture windows to give light and airy spaces for improved learning and create a link between the school and the surrounding environment & community
  • A double height lightwell running the full length of the building bringing natural light into the heart of the school
  • A roof-top teaching space to maximise the space available on site for sport and outdoor play whilst giving a unique learning environment for the creative subjects
  • Sustainable and wildlife features were also included such as PV panels, bird and bat boxes and a Redstart habitat was created on the roof.

The New Islington School values are Creative, Innovative & Unique. These fit well with Premier’s own values and have certainly been captured in the new school building.

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