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A cost effective sport and teaching hub for Chauncy School

Chauncy School in Hertfordshire have been working hard to meet the changing demands for a 21st Century school. Curriculums are evolving; subjects are demanding bigger learning spaces, and the emphasis on the importance of sport has never been so high.  

In line with their commitment to promoting student achievement, it was decided a new bespoke sports facility and additional classrooms would complement the school's existing facilities. In order to raise funds, the school requested government permission to sell some land and approval was granted on the condition that all the money raised was to be invested in the expansion of school sports facilities.

From a budget perspective the greatest efficiency would be achieved if the build could incorporate both the sports facility and classrooms so the school raised additional funds in order to do this. It was then the job of Business Manager, Wendy Bremner to optimise the project and maximise value for money.  

The school had a vision; they wanted an inviting, modern facility which would encourage more students to participate in a wider range of sports. A conventional, brick built facility just wasn’t ticking any boxes on either specification or budget. 

Head Teacher, Dennis O’Sullivan had heard excellent reviews about the new Challenger™ tensile structure that Sports Facility Specialist, Collinson, had built at nearby Freman College. After visiting the facility, they were impressed by the naturally light, bright environment in the sports hall and also, importantly, how much additional sport and teaching space this versatile building system had enabled Freman to get for their money. There was no looking back from here, Chauncy School had their sights set on a tensile facility of their own.

Following a tender bid, Collinson were appointed as principal contractor for the design and build of the new Challenger™ facility on the strength of their innovative design, proven track record and competitive price.

The Challenger™ superstructure is constructed using a steel frame and covered with a heavy duty architectural membrane. This translucent membrane allows daylight to permeate into the building. This creates a light, bright inside space which significantly reduces the need for artificial lighting during daylight hours, helping reduce running costs.  

Teaching space at the school was already in high demand due to changes in the curriculum and a recent development of a new sixth form common room had taken over 3 classrooms, so integrating teaching space into the project provided the perfect solution. The design team at Collinson worked with the school to incorporate 8 new air conditioned classrooms into the new build along with a fitness suite and office. Once the design was signed off and planning permission had been granted it wasn’t long before the installation team were on site.

The Collinson site teams were accustomed to working in a live school environment, this ensured the build went really smoothly. Wendy Bremner commented:

“Collinson are by far the best company we have ever worked with, we were barely aware that a new building was undergoing construction.

“Antony, the project manager held regular meetings to keep us up to to date on progress. The attention to detail on the financial tracking side of the project was spot on and ensured the project was delivered on time, and within budget."

The Challenger™ facility has delivered 840m² clear span sports space, with an additional 920m² of ancillary accommodation split between two floors. The facility comprises a four court, multi sport facility, shower and changing facilities, 8 new classrooms, an office and a fitness suite.

Both students and staff have been amazed by the facility which is allowing the school to enjoy an extended range of sports. The size is also a plus, easily accommodating full class participation in badminton which hadn’t previously been possible.

The fitness suite has appealed to a wide audience. The introduction of a ‘bulging biceps’ class has been a hit with the boys, the sixth form have access from 5pm and, to encourage the wellbeing of the staff, they have full access to the gym in the evenings, ensuring the whole school can benefit from the new facility.

Dan Collinson, Managing Director of Collinson said: “The spacious new facility we have created for Chauncy School is a great example of the cost efficiency provided by a tensile structure, this building method has not only increased sport capability for the school, but provided modern, much needed teaching space at the same time”

It’s not only the school who are enjoying the new sports facility; the wider community have also been invited to hire out the building in the evenings and at weekends and the interest the school have received has been phenomenal. Since the opening in February new Judo clubs, boot camps and football clubs have been utilising the facilities, with more teams and clubs booked to use it from Easter.

Increased participation in sport has also been noted, especially in the sixth formers. The school are pleased that the investment in sport is having a positive impact on participation and allowing students and the wider community to train to the highest possible standard at school and follow their sporting dreams.

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