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Morgan Sindall school on stilts project receives accolade at North West regional construction awards

The innovative design and construction of a school built on stilts has been recognised at the North West Regional Construction Awards.

The Irk Valley Community School in Lower Crumpsall, delivered by Morgan Sindall and Robinson Architects, scooped the Manchester Best Practice Award for the project’s important contribution to the region.

More than 500 people attended the award ceremony, held at the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, Southport, where the best in North West construction were honoured for their achievements.

The £9 million eco-friendly school is thought to be the first in the country to be built on stilts and this specialist design was adopted to eliminate a one-in-100-year risk of flooding from the nearby River Irk. It was also raised an extra 20 per cent to accommodate for estimated climate change.

The original concept design was created by Walker Simpson and delivered for Manchester City Council under its construction partnering arrangement, Framework One. The award recognises the combined efforts of Morgan Sindall, Robinson Architects, Manchester City Council, Brown & Co (EE), Murray Building Services, The AA Group, Murraywood Construction, P&L Joinery sub contractors, Parpac, White Young Green, and Edmund Shipway.

“We are thrilled to receive this award for a project which embraces our own sustainable values,” says Morgan Sindall area director Jim Morgan. “We are proud to have played a part in the creation of a school which not only tackles the potential for flooding but also provides an eco-friendly learning environment for the pupils.”

The school stands on a system of stilts ranging from 0.6m at the front to 1.5m at the back. It features an elevated walkway, to allow pupils and the public safe access from the school to safer ground at the nearby Harpurhey Viaduct if flooding occurs. Flood gates are integrated within the perimeter fencing and an ancillary ‘grasscrete’ car park doubles as a soak away.
There are 12 classrooms, a dedicated music and IT suite, main school hall to serve as a flexible performance space and community facilities.

It is clad in 100 per cent recyclable materials, features rainwater harvesting, comfort cooling systems in each classroom and an attenuation pond with a walkway bordering the River Irk. The pond will be used as a teaching aid by the school and also forms an ecological habitat area.

The awards were organised by the Centre for Construction Innovation and sponsored by Morgan Sindall, The University of Salford, School of the Built Environment, European Regional Development Fund, North West Development Agency, Celeb8, Regenerate Pennie Lancashire, BRE, Willmott Dixon Construction, Conlon, Place North West and the Build Environment Improvement Network.