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SIPs Activity Centre and Dormitory at Laches Wood

Time-Saving Construction with SIPs Building Systems

The Brief

Recently, SIPS@Clays were tasked with building a 68 bed dormitory block at Laches Wood Outdoor Activity Centre in collaboration with Capita Symonds, a Manchester-based architectural company. The brief was to create an ultra-modern, high quality dormitory within a limited timeframe using SIPs Building Systems.

After this, we would start work on building a brand new SIPs activity centre. Christened “The Den” – The new facility would feature state-of-the-art climbing and caving facilities.

The project came about as a joint venture between Capita and Staffordshire City Council, with the goal being to create an energy-efficient, high quality build to be enjoyed by visitors to the centre.

Why SIPs?

Capita Symonds and the client chose to use Structural Insulated Panels for several reasons, including their quick construction time. This was especially important in order to minimise disruption for guests and to open the new facilities as soon as possible. SIPs are also compatible with a wide selection of wood cladding options, including the chosen cedar boarding which was applied to the exterior walls.

Other reasons which made SIPs perfect for this project were their thermal insulation properties and their airtight structure, resulting in reduced heating bills and energy consumption. This was an important aspect for the client who planned to include further energy-saving features upon completion.

The Challenge

SIPS@Clays overcame many obstacles in this build, however the main challenge was the sheer size of the project. An incredible 2110m² of structural insulated panels were used for the dormitory alone. A further 1,000m² were then used to build the new activity centre, nicknamed “The Den”.

The time constraints on this project were also a large factor, as the client wanted the build to be completed as soon as possible in order to prevent too much disruption to guests and start profiting from the new facilities. The client asked for both of the new SIPs buildings to be fully completed within six months.

The Work

SIPS@Clays provided support and guidance throughout the process, and were involved from the early planning stages. We worked closely with Capita Symonds, converting their drawings into a 3D model and collaborating with an engineer to ensure the viability, compliance and economical value of the project.

SIPS@Clays received the “Raw” Structural Insulated Panels from the Kingspan TEK Selby Plant, which were then cut into required sizes for the new dormitory, and later the new activity centre. This was achieved with minimal wastage due to the nature of the panels, enabling the offcuts from one panel to be used for the next wall. By using our facilities to carry out this process, we were also able to reduce the amount of onsite waste. The newly cut designs were then transferred to the build location in Staffordshire.

Using the SIPs building system, SIPS@Clays team were able to efficiently install the new dormitory panels in less than four weeks, much faster than a traditional brick and mortar building. The new activity centre shell was then installed in just two weeks. Both of the builds were quickly made watertight, meaning that tradesmen could begin to work inside much faster than would be possible with other construction methods.

Key Achievements

  • As the panels were cut to size at our own site, our team were able to efficiently install the structure and finish our part of the project within the agreed time scale.
  • The use of SIPs meant that a simple roof structure could be used as the panels are able to carry the load. This resulted in more spacious areas.
  • With excellent insulation and air tightness, the SIPs panels contributed to the energy-saving aspects of the build, an important factor for the client.

How we can help

If you’re looking for a fast, high quality and economical build, contact a member of our knowledgeable team today. We will be happy to provide you with more information on our services and offer quotation. Alternatively, you can learn more about SIPs in our article; "What are SIPs" on our website and find out the environmental benefits of using them for your next build.

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Photo: SIPs Activity Centre and Dormitory at Laches Wood
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Photo: SIPs Activity Centre and Dormitory at Laches Wood

In addition to its dry, pre-fabricated construction, we also specified the Kingspan TEK Building System as its lightweight panels greatly reduced the size and cost of the foundations.

Russell Morris - Capita Symonds

Construction Photos

The following photographs detail the work undertaken during this SIPs construction project. Please select any thumbnail below to trigger a larger view and image gallery.