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Last edited 08 Nov 2019
Why are more schools turning to modular construction?
 Why are more schools turning to modular construction?
Traditional structures for schools have been Victorian buildings. The fixed footprint and sometimes draughty spaces can be impractical for modern educational purposes. Not only do these buildings come with a considerable carbon footprint, but they are also more likely to succumb to expensive maintenance issues.
It therefore comes as no surprise that modular classrooms are increasingly popular. The construction methods are convenient, quick, and can offer the sort of energy efficiency and sustainability that enable schools to continue to expand.
 Expanding numbers
There has been a boom in school-aged children. This increase in numbers hit the primary schools a few years ago, and it is now filtering its way into the secondary school system so there is constant pressure to find room for more children. With a demand that this construction is undertaken quickly and sustainably, some schools are turning to modular modes of building.
Although the phrase 'prefabricated' comes with connotations of the old-style 'huts' of the past, current modular construction design is bespoke. Schools benefit from school expansion, most of which will be constructed off-site. This allows schools to cater to increased numbers without disrupting the work of existing students.
21st-century learning strategies require schools to adapt to the needs of the learner. A simple one-size-fits-all structure is no longer always flexible enough to deal with demand. Modular classrooms can be designed fit-for-purpose and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. Teachers can work with the design team to add additional rooms, sinks, wheelchair access, extra doors and so on.
Modular classrooms are also moveable, so, if educational needs change in the future, it is possible to move the classrooms to a new, more suitable location. Furthermore, a standard classroom can quickly adapt to be a music room, a science lab or even meeting rooms. A school can make ultimate use of the facilities by hiring out these buildings to the private sector for hot-desking in the evening or during holidays, or for gatherings of professionals for meetings.
 Ecologically sustainable
The key design features of modular construction involve a constant eye to sustainability. The materials need to be sustainable, with timber coming from certified forests. The buildings themselves must be energy efficient, using insulation that makes them cheap to heat but also lowers energy use for the planet.
Modular buildings can no longer be called temporary classrooms. The construction is designed to last for at least 50 years. Therefore, even if the needs of the school changes, the building materials will not go to waste. If the classroom is no longer needed, the building can be deconstructed and the materials recycled. There is no such thing as demolition in modular construction.
With minimal maintenance and hassle-free construction, they also help schools keep within budgets. This leaves room for them to spend this money on other areas, such as the shaping and sustainability of children’s futures.
Modular construction and education are natural partners. The construction methods are focused on the needs of the future, as are the teachers in the schools. Modular construction can provide the flexible, practical and efficient spaces our schools need to deliver the best education.
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