Surface to Air’s design for the college (Portakabin)

UK's first prefabricated college building to go up in nine months

12 January 2016 | By GCR Staff 1 Comment

Portakabin, the UK-based maker of site accommodation, has been awarded a $20m contract to design and build the UK’s first university technical college (UTC).

“This is a hugely significant project for the construction sector”– Simon Ambler, director of the Portakabin Group

The Global Academy, which will provide training for 14-19 year olds who want to work in the broadcast and digital media industries, will be built in west London in less than nine months, and will be ready for the 2016/17 academic year.

It will house a sports hall, theatres and a cinema, all of which will be linked to a four-storey modular building by a full-height atrium.

There will be facilities for TV and radio broadcasting, as well as flexible teaching spaces and informal learning zones.

According to Portakabin, the college will be built using a building solution that will “seamlessly integrate both modular and site-based construction”. A significant proportion of the work will be completed off site at the Portakabin Group’s factory in York.

The design of the college, which was undertaken by Portakabin and Surface to Air architects, will have to deliver a building with demanding acoustic specification for the broadcast studios, which require triple glazing and specially engineered air conditioning.

Commenting on the project, Simon Ambler, director of the Portakabin Group, said: “This is a hugely significant project for the construction sector. It demonstrates the architectural flexibility of a highly engineered Yorkon off-site solution from the Portakabin Group and how an outstanding building design can successfully integrate different construction methods.

“It also illustrates how we can deliver an inspiring, animated and intelligent building in a very short timescale and on a highly complex site.”

The scheme is being constructed by the Portakabin Group on a brownfield site in Hayes in the London Borough of Hillingdon. The site will require complex groundworks, excavations for district heating and the construction of an electricity substation.

UTCs are technical secondary schools that combine an academic education with technical and practical learning. The governing body of each UTC is controlled by a business sponsor and a university.