Henry Brothers has been appointed to build a new £4.4m woodland nursery and forest school for Staffordshire University.
Located close to the University’s nature reserve at the heart of its Leek Road site, the new facilities will meet the high student and staff demand for nursery places whilst also providing additional places for the wider local community. More than doubling the nursery’s existing capacity, the new provision will create 100 full day-care places for children aged from 0 to five. It will also have the capacity to provide childcare and education for children from five to 12 years outside of term time. Sustainability, digital technology, and nature are at the forefront of the new build, which aims to further the University’s commitment to creating a family-friendly campus.
Ian Taylor, Managing Director of Henry Brothers Midlands, which is based in Nottingham, said: “Henry Brothers is excited to be building this fantastic new nursery and forest school for Staffordshire University. As an energy-efficient, environmentally sound, low emission building, it will be a tremendous asset to the campus, providing a safe, modern, and attractive nursery. We are aiming to achieve a zero-carbon target on the project, helping to build on the University’s green credentials.
“We have a wealth of experience when it comes to building first-class university facilities, having worked on several schemes on university campuses in the Midlands. We are proud to have now been appointed to also help Staffordshire University enhance the facilities it offers to its students and staff and look forward to starting on site.”
Featuring four inspirational learning spaces with areas for food preparation and wet play as well as flexible floor space, the new build also has additional capacity for a 24-place classroom and observational suite with leading digital technology. Through the observation suite, teaching can be also observed, facilitating applied learning for trainee teachers, social workers, Special Educational Needs Coordinators, and students at the University.
The new nursery provision will also incorporate a forest school facility to further develop links with local schools and provide community participation opportunities. Aimed at children between the ages of three and seven years, the forest school will enable children to experience outdoor learning opportunities such as identifying nature, play-based learning, den building and forest art. Through the forest school children will have the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills and knowledge outside of the traditional classroom environment.
Andrew Proctor, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Digital) at Staffordshire University said: “We’re delighted to see work on our nursery and forest school commence in the new year. The new facilities will build upon the excellent care that we provide in our existing nursery, whilst also allowing more children across our community the opportunity to gain access to high-quality early-years education.
“The addition of a forest school means we’re able to deliver a really unique experience. Children will have the chance to safely explore outdoor green spaces whilst also learning all about the world around them. We believe that the nursery will truly offer the best of both the digital and physical world, creating an engaging and exciting learning environment for children to be part of. We can’t wait to welcome the first intake in 2022.”
Work on the nursery and forest school is set to commence in early 2021, with leading construction company Henry Brothers Midlands appointed as the main contractor. The project team consists of Mace as project and cost managers, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios as lead designer and architect, Max Fordham as building services engineers, Civic Engineers as structural engineers and transport consultants, and Re-form Landscape as landscape designers. The Henry Brothers’ design team includes CPMG Architects, structural and civil engineer Hexa and Couch, Perry, Wilkes for M&E services.
On completion in 2022, the building is expected to become the first net-zero carbon facility on campus having been designed using passive and highly efficient technologies for heating, cooling, and ventilation.