Hamstel Infants and Hamstel Juniors are two separately-run schools which share the same location in a residential area of the UK seaside town of Southend. Both schools are over 100 years old having opened in 1914, just six days before the start of the First World War. Between them the schools now accommodate nearly 1,000 local children but as class sizes have increased over the years so has the requirement for additional sports and dining facilities to keep pace with demands from the growing numbers of pupils.
The architects assessing the options for creating extra space finally turned to Neptunus to come up with long-term solutions to provide the infants’ school with a new dedicated area to form a dual-purpose physical education and dining hall with adjoining kitchens and storage rooms – and to eventually extend the facility to create an exclusive sports hall for the junior school.
Neptunus’ state-of-the-art Flexolution technology offered the ideal solution. A local building firm which specialises in educational projects, were contracted to carry out the infrastructure works and prepare the foundations and concrete floor for Neptunus’ technicans to erect a single-storey Flexolution building measuring approximately 300 square metres on an area that was part of the school playing fields. Once the structure was in place, the building contractors carried out the internal fit-out in conjunction with the Neptunus team.
Construction of the dual purpose building at the Infants’ School was carried out in 2014 during the school’s centenary celebrations. The project included creating a kitchen area where dinners could be cooked and served to 470 infants and nusery school children with much-needed storage space for vital school equipment.
Following the success of this facility, plans were put in place to seamlessly extend the building by adding a two-storey extension to create a dedicated light and airey sports hall for exclusive use of the Junior School. This building, providing more than 460 square metres of additional space, incorporates changing rooms, toilets, sports equipment storage space and a mezzanine level with the ability to be used as either an indoor games area or viewing balcony. The 9m high sports hall means it can accommodate a range of activities including badminton, trampolining and basket ball.
Although situated at the same location the schools each operate independently with their own head teachers and dedicated staff, therefore it was essential to communicate with both parties throughout both projects to keep everyone informed of build programmes and to deal with any unforeseen issues. Building work on both projects had to be confined to school holiday periods as no construction work could be carried out while children were on site. This meant the projects spanned a two-year period involving meticulous planning to maximise use of available time during the school holidays, with Neptunus’ team working closely with the contractors.
Lisa Clark, Headteacher of Hamstel Infants School, said: “We have a spacious dining room which can accommodate all of our children with a fabulous kitchen where the food is prepared and served. This facility is absolutely fantastic and they even cook out of here now for the Junior School, so these kitchens are providing over 700 dinners a day. We have overcome some teething problems initially and it works really well.
“These buildings have good acoustics with good lighting and heating. There’s lots of storage space and they can be adapted as halls or classrooms, they are ideal for schools that need additional space.”