Experts in education infrastructure

14 Dec 2022

Ten years ago, the Ministry of Education (MoE) issued an ROI, calling on parties willing to work with it on the proposed Christchurch Schools Rebuild (CSR) programme — a $1 billion-plus initiative to rebuild and/or repair schools within the greater Christchurch area that had been damaged in the earthquakes — to register their interest.

The CSR programme began in 2013, with Citycare Property being one of six contractors involved, with a total to date of 79 schools being refurbished, rebuilt or built new. All but four of the remaining 36 schools are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2024, with the full programme planned to finish in 2025.

The Citycare Property approach

Citycare Property was one of the first contractors appointed, beginning with an initial six projects, some design-build, some negotiated and some tendered. What became apparent early on was the need for specific site management, alongside selected subcontractors.

Believing that these projects would only be as good as the subcontractors working on them, Citycare Property instituted an accreditation system that weeds out ‘man in the van’ contractors and focuses on those with approved track records around health and safety and quality assurance.

“As a result, our QA systems and our methodologies have often been commented on in an extremely positive way, which has led to a reputation that we are very, very protective of,” says Construction Manager, Sean Boland. “In my role as construction manager, I am blessed to have a really, really good crew of site managers and project managers and in the 10 years that we've been doing this work, we have not put that reputation at risk, ever, and we'll make sure it stays like that.” 

Programme and methodology

A recently completed building construction project is a new multi-purpose gymnasium and the refurbishment of three classroom blocks at Isleworth School in Bishopdale.

Working with the school, the Citycare Property team devised a programme and methodology that included the establishment of a haul road, enabling works to proceed with minimal disruption to the school schedule and ensuring the safety of everyone involved.

“With projects such as these, long before we start on site digging holes and thinking about foundations, we think hard about how we can do the work safely, protecting the kids and the teachers and also our subcontractors. In this instance, the team looked carefully at all the options and made a case for a bespoke haul road into the site, this reasoning was presented to the school, who agreed, and it allowed the team to safely bring heavy machinery onto the school grounds without risk to the school.”

As the haul road was going in and portacom toilets, lunchrooms and offices were being set up, the team was signing up contractors off site. This meant that during the two-week mobilisation period, the majority of contractors were signed up, contracts agreed and programmes distributed to all contractors, so they understood start dates.

While COVID-19 delays did impact works, the project was eventually handed over in time with the revised delivery date.

A new build with a difference

While it may look like most other contemporary school halls, the one at Isleworth School has a hidden difference — a complex roof structure, which required particular attention to detail, says Christine Coutand, Senior Site Manager.

“The geometry of the building is very unusual, which required the people working on it, especially on the roof structure, to be very precise and very cautious of all the angles that were involved. This could have been a real challenge, but because we have the right team, that made it a lot easier.”  

Similarly, there are a lot of interior details that don't show, such as the hidden fixings in the plywood linings. Another complexity to the build was the use of concrete as both a structural element and an aesthetic one.

Essentially, there is one slab of concrete, however, internally, an exposed aggregate mix was chosen while externally, ‘normal’ concrete thresholds were poured. All of this required a high level of detail to ensure the two married correctly while still allowing for the correct falls away from the building.

Creating better learning environments

Alongside the building of the hall, the Citycare Property team also refurbished three of the classroom blocks — a total of 13 classrooms.

All exterior wall linings were removed and had new insulation installed before new Autex linings were put on, providing not only great thermal insulation but great acoustic insulation as well. Each of the classrooms also had new double-glazed windows and doors installed, as well as new carpet and suspended ceilings with acoustic tiles.

The Citycare Property HVAC team also replaced all of the old radiators and pipes and installed updated heat pumps throughout, ensuring the refurbished classrooms are warm, dry and healthy.