Overhead view solid wall

Clayfields House is a secure children’s home in Nottingham, run by the County Council. It provides care, education and specialist interventions for up to 20 vulnerable young people between the ages of 10 and 17.

One of the home’s accommodation wings was falling into disrepair because of ground movement, and they needed a new, robust, modern block to replace it.

We were asked to provide full multi-disciplinary design and project management for the entire project. Its aim was to improve conditions for children and staff, achieve national standards and maintain security at every stage.

waste diverted from landfill
April 2018
New Build
Traditional build

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About the project

The new accommodation block had to meet a unique brief, creating a more homely, inspiring space for the young people to live, yet making security a top priority. Clayfields’ aim is to rehabilitate their young residents back into society wherever possible, so our design needed to reflect that goal, while keeping everyone safe.

On top of high-level security stipulations, we faced poor ground conditions and a very compact site, which needed extensive preparation. To tackle this, we split the project into four distinct phases: pre-construction enabling, building the new accommodation block, demolishing the old accommodation block and building a new vocational block in its place.

We mapped out major service diversions and links between new and existing buildings so the team had room to work and the site could stay operational. Pre-construction work began with an enabling contract to divert extensive existing drainage and services. With this complete, we were able to move onto phase two – the new accommodation block.

We followed strict guidelines set out by the Department for Education (DfE) and Ofsted to make sure none of the spaces we created posed a risk to the young people or staff. Among other factors, that meant no sharp edges, snagging spots or ligature points.

Working within an active maximum-security home meant that keeping the children, staff and our project team safe was our most important challenge. We managed this by bringing together the design team, site team, contractors, Clayfields’ staff, DfE and Ofsted, creating close collaboration and communication between everyone involved.


Keeping the site secure was critical. To achieve this, we carefully phased our work, constructing temporary security measures while permanent new ones were installed.

As a result of the close partnerships we forged with the centre, the transition from the existing block to the new one was very smooth. The finished accommodation is safe, modern, practical and a significant improvement on its predecessor. Clayfields’ staff continue to provide very positive feedback about its impact on them and the children.

The completion of the new residential facilities allowed us to demolish the now redundant original accommodation and make way for phase four – the new vocational building which is currently under construction.

Its aim will be to improve the children’s future prospects, life skills and independence, with training in food, science, hair and beauty. It will also include assembly and storage space, toilets, a medical room and a nurture room for high-dependency children.

Key outcomes

We completed the £1m enabling works and £3.65m accommodation block project at Clayfields House in April 2018, after 18 months on site.

The brand-new, energy-efficient accommodation will reduce the centre’s running costs and provide capacity for two extra children. It includes eight new bedrooms, along with eight en-suite bathrooms, living quarters and first-floor office and administration areas.

Demolition of the original accommodation block was completed in June 2018 and the new vocational block we’re building in its place is due for completion in November 2019.

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