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Database: Takeley Primary School, Essex

Analysis of Takeley Primary School, Essex

‘Sometimes I am not popular,’ admits Jackie Lowe. As principal architect at Essex County Council and client advisor, Lowe sees herself as a critical friend: on Takeley School that meant pushing contractor and architect to get the best building while offering the school reality checks along the way. 

That, an extra consultant’s fee and more site checks may not always have been welcome, but in fact Lowe worked mostly at the early stages of the project, explaining funding and methods and acting as a client advisor before Sarah Wigglesworth Architects was even a gleam in May Gurney’s eye. 

Lowe put together the tender document for the school to go to the SmartEAST framework at Stage B. Into it was fed site analysis and school visioning. The requirements of Building Bulletin 99 were amended to cover Essex’s own criteria.

‘We were trying to get the best and higher priority items delivered,’ she says. In the tender documents the story space was an optional extra but everyone wanted it; and they did get it on the original budget. ‘Problems always come down to money,’ she says, ‘so there was a point at detailed design where they couldn’t get the finishes they wanted.’

But she is still proud of the process. ‘I’ve never known scheme design at stage B to get delivered at stage K. I still can’t believe we did that,’ Lowe says. Open book contracting was an important part of it. ‘It allowed exploration but no running away with ourselves,’ she says. ‘And there were no surprises, no resentment.’

Obviously the county has a stake in the process and the section 106 contribution was channelled through it so it was not simply a consultant for the school. ‘The school wanted a high quality end product,’ says Lowe. ‘Whether funding allowed that I will stay quiet on.’ But the money that was spent proved good value in her opinion. ‘Takeley got its money’s worth,’ she says.

Because Takeley went ‘so well’ lots of the processes that were new to it been adopted for more recent projects. Tender documents, viability work and employers requirements will be used again. Unfortunately the design emphasis will not. 


Client: Takeley Primary School
Project sponsor/client advisor: Essex County Council
Architect: Sarah Wigglesworth Architects
Project manager/QS: MACE
Contractor: May Gurney
Consulting engineer: MLM (Structures, drainage, M+E, BREEAM)
Landscape consultant: Capita Symonds
Acoustic consultant: Sharpes Redmore


External brickwork: Wienerberger Blended Red Multi Gilt Stock
Monopitch roof to classrooms and main hall: Kalzip 400 Profile Stucco Embossed Aluminium Sheet with E160+5 E Clips
Roofing subcontractor: Briggs Amasco
Coloured courtyard walls: Trespa Meteon – assorted colours
Cladding subcontractor: BR Hodgson
Windcatchers to main hall and classrooms: Monodraft X-Air
Flooring to classrooms, circulation and admin: Marmoleum Real – assorted colours
Acoustic ceiling tiles in classroom and halls: Rockfon Sonar 1200x600 tile with an E15 Tegular edge 
Bespoke furniture items in reception and library, classroom storage: Benchmark products
Windows and curtain walling to classrooms: Comar 9Pi
Window subcontractor: Anglia fixings
Sanitaryware: Twyfords Sola range
WC cubicles: Total laminates
Internal doors: Enfield Doors
Joinery subcontractor (including timber staircase): Holness Joinery

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