Transforming the education sector with SmartSpace: McAvoy’s high-quality modular fleet for rental & sale

McAvoy has been manufacturing and delivering a wide range of innovative and adaptable space solutions for more than 50 years during which time it has delivered more than 10million square feet of high-quality accommodation across a range of sectors including education.

McAvoy recognised the need for a product that could support customers in meeting immediate needs, for example, to cope with classroom shortages, without having to make a large capital investment. Within the education sector, for example, this could enable funds to be used elsewhere, eg upgrading equipment or hiring staff, resulting in improved overall service levels.
Combining design expertise, engineering excellence and precision manufacturing, McAvoy created their SmartSpace modular fleet for rental and sale– which is amongst the newest of its kind – it is sustainable, safe, high quality, adaptable, and future-proofed. Offering endless configurations SmartSpace can also be easily repurposed.


So what is SmartSpace?
SmartSpace is McAvoy’s ready-to-go semi-permanent modular space solution designed for customers who want to rent or purchase accommodation within demanding lead-times. SmartSpace can be designed to accommodate anything from 10 to more than 1,000 people.

Incorporating the very latest in technology-led design, McAvoy’s high-quality SmartSpace solutions boast superior thermal performance, enhanced air tightness and U values that exceed current performance requirements. With a 90-minute plus fire rating floor to floor and a 60-minute plus fire rating inside to outside, complemented by A2 non-combustible cladding, insulation, and roofing every SmartSpace building is industry-leading and offers a stackable configuration of up to three storeys. For added design versatility and re-useability they come in three compatible and interchangeable module sizes.

All McAvoy’s SmartSpace modular solutions are warranty protected and boast high quality, low maintenance facades, commercial grade PPC aluminium external doors and low maintenance modern interiors.   With around 80% of the project being completed within our 70,000 sq ft purpose-built manufacturing facility, site disruption is significantly reduced.  McAvoy developed three different SmartSpace solutions to support its range of customer needs – with fast-track delivery guaranteed including SmartClass – designed and created for the education sector – which can be configured to meet the requirements of any education space in terms of whole-life costs, sustainability, flexibility, and overall quality.

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SmartClass: Designed & Delivered

St Josephs National School,
County Dublin
Requirement:  To prepare for a rise in student enrolments, the Department of Education Building Unit required high-quality modular classrooms in time for students starting the new term.  Our solution:
Four SmartClass modular classrooms with WCs were delivered to site with 80% of the works having already been completed at our 70,000 sq ft purpose-built manufacturing facility, including electrics, internal partitioning, flooring, cladding and features an Air Sourced Heat Pump in accordance with NZEB requirements. The project was completed within 16 weeks and was delivered on time and to budget.

Ysgol Y Deri Special School
Requirement:  Home to 300 pupils, this is the largest special school in the UK. With rising admissions, the school had an urgent requirement for increased classroom provision for the September  term while it awaits a new build.
Our Solution:  52-week Rental.
Following appointment as principal contractor, McAvoy designed, built, and handed over the new SmartClass facility in less than 11 weeks from instruction and less than 5 weeks on site. The accommodation features an entrance lobby with cloakroom area, accessible WC and two individual pupil toilets with IPS as well as two 62m2 classrooms with wet play areas and dedicated storage rooms.

The launch of the Department for Education’s rebuilding programme, combined with the Government’s ‘presumption in favour of offsite building’ is increasing demand for this method of construction. Here, Jim Cowell, Technical Director at Algeco considers some of the benefits it offers the education sector.

Following the UK Government’s announcement of a ‘presumption in favour of offsite,’ all building projects should have at least one option that includes the substantial use of offsite manufacture during the development stage. Combined with a school rebuilding and refurbishment push by the Department for Education, many schools are opting for modular design builds.

One key factor in the rising popularity of modular construction – both within an offsite and temporary building hire programme – is its cost-effectiveness. Long-term running costs of modular buildings are often lower than those of traditional brick and mortar buildings, due to the modules being produced in a quality assessed production facility with high manufacturing tolerances at critical interfaces. Often, achieving these on site can be more challenging due to skills shortages and inclement weather, for example.

Offsite construction offers a quicker, less disruptive alternative to traditional construction. Utilising DfMA (Design for Manufacturing Assembly) and Lean Manufacturing, combined with Seismic design innovation, allows us to deliver building modules with a high PMV (Pre Manufacturer Value) of around 80 percent. It’s why we approach all our projects using DfMA, including more recent school builds at Laurence Calvert Academy in Leeds and Northampton School.

Completed the majority of work in a controlled, factory environment lifts any limitations usually imposed by weather. It also reduces the level of disruption to the school itself, mitigating any distractions caused by noise and alleviating health and safety concerns associated with a traditional construction site. As the majority of the building is completed offsite, insertion of the modular building onto the school grounds can easily be co-ordinated with school holidays, avoiding any disruption to learning.

Compared to traditional construction, modular construction produces a limited amount of waste, as classrooms are designed to tight specifications, with any excess materials from design modifications being reused for later projects. As modular buildings are completed offsite, vehicular traffic from travel to and from the construction site is eliminated, meaning CO₂ levels are lower than that of a traditional construction site.

Permanent offsite builds: Hatchlands Primary School

Due to residential developments and increasing birth rates in the area, a new school was developed in Redhill, Surrey.

Adjacent to a Conservation Area, offsite construction of the school using our permanent modular building system meant that the modules were delivered with a PMV of 85%, and ready for final finishing on-site. This reduced the construction schedule by around 50%, compared to a traditional on-site build, with completion in just 32 weeks.

The new school was funded by the DfE and operated by the Everychild Trust – a multi-academy trust, whose aim is to “Engage, equip and empower every child”. Development of the school was part of a Modular-A Primary School component solution framework.

The 420-place school had to be created on a similar footprint to the existing structure and within the same two-storey height limit.

The designers were DLA Architects who worked with our offsite team to develop a component-centred solution based on the Algeco market leading modular system. Hatchlands was designed in a contemporary style using brick, cedar cladding, purple panelling to complement the school’s branding, render and significant glazed elements to create light filled teaching spaces.

Built to high sustainability standards, the school achieves a BREEAM Very Good Rating, placing it within the top 25% of buildings, in terms of sustainability, aligning with the goals of Reigate and Banstead Borough Council. Transmittance of noise was minimised, meeting minimum standards set out in The Building Bulletin 93 (BB 93) ‘Acoustic Design of Schools: A Design Guide,’ through the construction of a suspended concrete floor in the module.

A large span sports hall was created using our Hybrid system, providing the school with a valuable space that is now used for assemblies, sports and performances. The system allows incorporation of large open atriums and increased ceiling heights and can be fully integrated with the modules to provide greater design scope.

CLICK HERE To find out more about the Hatchlands Primary School



Temporary modular buildings for hire

Changes in pupil numbers and demographics are putting pressure on education providers nationwide. It’s one of the reasons why more education providers are opting for temporary classrooms, because it allows them to create extra places, quickly. They can also be used to move the whole school into interim facilities while new permanent offsite buildings are created.

Schools that choose the hire route avoid the need for CapEx and lengthy sign-off processes whilst having the flexibility to use the buildings for as long as they want. This aligns well with sustainable and circular economy principles because the buildings are refurbished and re-used when they are decanted from site. Hiring temporary classroom is a cost effective solution for schools looking to respond rapidly to changes in pupil numbers.

CLICK HERE to discover more about temporary classroom hire






Offsite and modular building specialists Enviro Building Solutions have won a contract worth £2.8M for the construction of an eight classroom block for the Thomas Aveling School in Rochester. In line with exacting time schedules, work has just begun on site and the project will be delivered in September of this year.

Alongside the extra classroom capacity, the project includes an extension to the school’s existing sports changing facilities using traditional construction methods. In addition, Enviro Building Solutions will oversee the construction of a MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) canopy to cover the existing tennis courts, creating an all-weather play facility.

“Modular building methods provide the perfect solution for applications where timescales to project delivery are particularly tight,” stated Craig Reidy, Finance Director. “Traditional construction methods could not achieve the build schedules we regularly provide to deliver our projects in line with the requirements of our clients and end users. In addition, today’s advanced modular buildings combine cost effectiveness with versatility and sustainability; we build high quality facilities which often achieve EPC ‘A’ ratings, creating attractive and practical buildings designed to stand the test of time.”

The Thomas Aveling School is the joint lead school of the Fort Pitt Thomas Aveling Academies Trust (FPTA), which includes a grammar school, two high schools and two junior schools. It is an 11-19 co-educational, non-selective secondary school and a converter academy with specialist teaching areas for science, design technology, art and sport and a performing arts centre.

Enviro Building Solutions has already delivered a number of projects for Medway Council on time and to budget, and was the Council’s preferred partner for this build based on the quality and value of past schemes including classroom blocks for Rainham Mark Grammar School and Riverside Primary School.