Modular buildings hit the spot

Issue: Volume 95, Number 10

Posted: 7 June 2016
Reference #: 1H9d2J

Far from being the old ‘prefabs’ of yesteryear, today’s modular buildings are becoming the classrooms of the future.

Vogeltown School principal Jeremy Ogle started on the same day that the first of the Ministry of Education’s new modular buildings arrived in New Plymouth.

“There were three trucks with three pieces of classroom on them,” he says.

“I was down the road watching them heading into the junior school on my very first day.”

That was in April last year, and 12 months later, the classroom is working very well.

“We absolutely love it!” he says. “We’re very lucky to have it.”

Year 1 teacher Lee Newlands says she really enjoys working in the new building.

“These are wonderful modern new spaces,” she says. “It’s a flexible space, and we can use it in lots of different ways. I love the bright colours – the blues and the reds. It’s a welcoming environment, and it will be lovely and warm in the winter.”

Lee also calls it an “all-weather” building as she can open doors to the decks on either side.

“That’s a great little area,” Jeremy says. “Lee gets out the paints and easels and it’s easy to clean up afterwards.”

He notes that although the classroom is open plan, the noise factor is very low.

“Some classrooms have to put baffles in or break up the space with furniture. Here, if people are talking in one corner, you can still talk in the other corner.”

Jeremy was also surprised at how quickly the building was installed after the components arrived on site.

“Within a couple of weeks, we were walking around inside it, the pieces were joined up and the carpet was down,” he says. “I’d love to have another one for our senior school. I’d recommend them to anyone.”

Modular buildings have a number of advantages for schools over permanent buildings:

  • They provide flexible learning spaces which can be easily adapted to support current teaching and learning activities, and future changes in practice.
  • Modular buildings are assembled off-site to minimise disruptions to school operations. 
  • They are built to consistent high standards and meet the same codes as permanent buildings.
  • They are highly durable and sustainable, which means lower maintenance costs over time. 
  • These buildings can be delivered in a shorter timeframe because there is already a contract for supply in place, which saves schools time and money on procurement and design processes.
  • Because modular buildings are relocatable, the Ministry can deliver buildings where they are needed without creating buildings that could later become surplus to requirements.
  • Modular buildings offer schools short, medium and long-term accommodation solutions.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 1:50 PM, 7 June 2016

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