Critchill School

About the project:

About the School

Critchill School, located in Frome, provides education for approximately 80 pupils who have complex and severe learning needs.

The school itself is located within ‘Green’ and spacious grounds, however had an existing heavily dilapidated modular single classroom building positioned within the playground that was beyond its design life and no longer fit for purpose.


Having previously worked with Hookway Partnership LLP, R1 Construction were invited to competitively tender for the replacement of the existing modular building with a new and larger facility that would provide the school with an exciting and vibrant new building.


About the Project

The new building is intended to replace the post 16 teaching facilities that the previous modular building accommodated with the additions of accessible toilets and wet room, administration offices, internal and external stores and a larger common room complete with a fully fitted residential kitchen that incorporates rise & fall worktops providing wheelchair users full accessibility to sink and cooker facilities.

The school itself take pride in providing vibrant and colourful spaces, and this theme continued through to the new building, designed with a range of cladding materials and colours, brightly coloured feature walls and sink splashbacks.


Value Engineering

The new building was initially intended to be constructed utilising a conventional modular building system, however due to the physical site constraints the building needed to be designed in a ‘V’ shape. This combined with extremely challenging and restricted site access meant that installing a bespoke manufactured modular building would be exceptionally expensive and far surpass the clients available budget.

R1 Construction were able to offer a solution, proposing the use of a SIPS (Structurally Insulated Panel System) to form the uniquely shaped super-structure of the building, and also providing the additional significant advantage of installing a conventional block and beam floor achieving level access into the building enabling ease of use for wheelchair users.

The other additional benefit of the SIPS building system is that the lead time is exceptionally shorter than a modular method. SIPS has a 4-6 week lead in, as opposed to the 20 week lead in other modular tenders had offered.



Following successful award of the project under a JCT Design & Build 2016 Contract, R1 Construction undertook a the pre-construction services consisting of: Detailed ground investigation reports, ground penetrating radar and utility mapping surveys, CCTV drainage survey, sub-structure and building structural design, SBEM calculations, electrical capacity surveys and full M&E design.



In close vicinity to the proposed new build location were a series of trees which needed to be considered within the foundation design. R1 Construction undertook detail ground investigation reports which identified high plasticity clay and from this a complex foundation design was developed incorporating conventional strip footings, piers and reinforced ground beams to bridge over the tree roots from which a conventional solid block and beam floor was constructed, also providing the school with level access


Building Design and Finishes

Despite the SIPS panel superstructure being fabricated off site, all other works remain exactly as a traditional build would. Having the superstructure pre-manufactured means that the building shell can be erected in an incredibly short time (7 working days for this scheme) and forms a water-tight envelope.

Reaching this stage so quickly enables external and internal trades to work in parallel with each other rapidly accelerating the build programme. Other than the superstructure, all other works are undertaken in a traditional manner. All internal walls are fully plaster boarded and skimmed before receiving paint finishes. Suspended ceilings are installed throughout and a durable high grade non slip vinyl floor fitter throughout.

Externally the main frontage of the building is fitted with brightly coloured ‘Trespa’ panels, with all other elevations finished in a ‘Leaf Green’ wood grain effect fibre cement board cladding to comply with planning conditions.

The front elevation of the building also incorporates a seamless oversailing canopy, supported by bright pink steel columns with the soffit clad in continuation of the Trespa also.



Despite significant material shortages experienced in 2021, R1 ensured all orders for materials were placed well in advance of their required delivery dates. Despite experiencing some extended material delays, all works were still able to be completed through re-sequencing certain aspects of the work.

The whole project was delivered within a live school environment, building within the school existing playground area. R1 Construction only work in education, and fully understand the importance of minimising the disruptive impact of construction works, particularly in sensitive and special education needs learning environments. Prior to works commencement we were able to gain a full understand of schools opening and closing times to arrange deliveries around these, and also programme the most disruptive works within the school holidays or outside of school hours.

The site itself is extremely constrained with minimal areas for material storage so all orders were delivered in a JIT (just in time manner) to prevent any stockpiling but also help reduce wastage.



Overall this has been an extremely successful project. The end result provides the school with a vibrant and exciting new facility that fully meets the client brief and budget constraints. The project has had its challenges but through a collaborative working approach with all involved these have been overcome and the school and its pupils will benefit greatly from this new environment for many years to come.