29 October 2020

Midas celebrates completion and opening of new Deaf Academy

Midas Construction celebrated the completion of the new £10.5 million Deaf Academy in Exmouth, which opened its doors to students in September.

The project to create a permanent home for the Deaf Academy marked a momentous chapter in the history of the 193-year-old Devon-based charity and has delivered a bespoke facility which can accommodate up to 80 residential and day students aged 5-25 from all over the UK.

Built on the seven-acre site of the former Rolle College in Exmouth, and designed by South West-based architects Stride Treglown, it features cutting edge Deafspace architecture and technology designed to enhance and improve the learning for its students.

The result is a facility which Principal Sylvan Dewing has described as, “an incredible new space where our students will thrive and grow”.

“This is a building which has been designed specifically for young Deaf people and the staff who will be working in it. It will be wholly inclusive and enable our students to live, learn and grow their independence in a safe, state-of-the-art environment,” she said.

Working on such a unique and prestigious scheme also proved a learning experience for the Midas Construction team, which fully embraced the opportunity to involve students and staff in the build. This even included going back to the classroom to learn sign language, so they were better able to communicate with Academy students and staff during the project.

The Midas site team also organised a series of fundraising activities among staff and suppliers, raising an impressive £2,800 which will be donated to the Academy.

The project involved the construction of a 2,158m2 school building and a three-storey 1,318m2 student accommodation block, with the existing Owen Building on the site also altered and refurbished, and a new sports pitch created.

The new Academy features a high-ceilinged atrium at its heart, corridors are wider so people can walk side-by-side and sign to each other, and corners of circulation routes are curved to enable students to move safely around the building. In the classrooms, desks are placed in a horseshoe shape to enhance communication and break-out rooms provide space where students can be taught in small groups, take time out or receive therapies, such as speech and language therapy. The proximity to the classrooms will mean students no longer have to take prolonged periods away from their lessons to receive therapies either off site, or in other areas of the Academy.

Mike Borkowski, Business Development Director at Midas Construction, said: “We are all incredibly proud to have been involved in such a significant project to create this inspirational new facility.

“The relationship with the Academy throughout has been hugely positive and the site team has enjoyed working closely with the staff and students and sharing in the excitement of their new facility as it took shape.

“Covid restrictions earlier in the year had an impact on the original opening plans, with the final stages of the build impacted and student learning taken online. However, we are delighted to have been able to work so effectively as a team to ensure the facility was completed safely and in time for students to return at the start of the new academic year.”

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