Preston Academy ASD Unit
This project consisted of the design and build of a specialist learning environment for pupils with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome. The ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) Unit was built on the grounds of Preston Academy School.
Our works included:
Design from origin including undertaking the full planning permission process. The construction of a 250m² single storey standalone building, comprising of:
- Four classrooms
- An office and meeting room
- A one-to-one teaching room
- A social area
- Calm rooms
- Toilets, including disabled facilities and a wet room
- Mechanical and electrical installations including IT and security systems
- The installation of underfloor heating
The new structure was built on a severely sloping site. The design incorporated masonry retaining walls, and the build was traditional block work with a mixture of render and timber cladding on the outside. The roof design was complex, incorporating three varying angles – this was achieved through close collaboration between the architect, engineer and site manager.
Internally, the rooms were decorated in light colours to create a calming atmosphere. Carpets were also selected for their specific material, as these needed to be hard wearing and easy to clean. We also inserted sound scoops into the walls of all teaching areas to reduce the amount of noise passing through.
The school remained open whilst the works took place. To ensure the safety of the pupils at the existing live school, the site compound was segregated with Heras fence panels. We also delivered a presentation to all pupils and staff providing information on the works and site layout. The school’s existing fire escape route ran through the site compound so, together with the Premises Manager, we arranged for new emergency procedures and communicated this to pupils and staff.
With the road leading to the site in a busy residential area, it was important for us to ensure that our works were effectively communicated to local residents and that they caused minimal disruption. All site deliveries were prior arranged with the Site Manager to ensure that lorries could gain immediate access to the site without blocking the road. To keep local residents informed on our activities, our customer liaison team provided regular letter updates, including our contact details should any resident need to discuss any element of the work schedule.
The works were completed successfully on time and Preston School ASD Unit was named as a finalist for the ‘Best Educational Building’ in the Local Authority Building Control’s Excellence Awards 2015.