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Retrofit Meets: Schools

Event video
Wed 27 Mar 2024, 6-7.30pm


Retrofit Meets is an in person series of panel events bringing together experts in the built environment. These are held in the seminar suites of the Building Centre.  

Organised thematically, panellists will discuss their latest research and completed or on going projects, some of which are displayed in the Retrofit 24 exhibition. These discussions will present the aims, challenges and outcomes of each project. 

The event format will also allow for dialogue between the panellists offering our attendees new insights into retrofit. We encourage audience participation during the Q&A portion of the evening and look forward to meeting you there.  

Retrofit Meets: Schools was the first in our series of Retrofit 24 events. Chaired by Lara Newman of LocatED, she is joined by speakers from van Heyningen & Haward (vHH) Architects who recently retrofitted Houlton School in Rugby, Energy Conscious (ECD) Architects who have been working closely with Brent Council on an extensive retrofit agenda for schools in the borough, Ventrolla who renovated King Edward VI school in Birmingham and Creative Education Trust who work with schools in the Midlands. 

This panel allows for a multi- perspective discussion on the opportunities and challenges of retrofitting primary and secondary schools. Most importantly, what collaborations are necessary for a successful retrofit of a school where there are limited funds and time constraints, including those posed by school holidays. This panel will explore the creative and practical solutions needed to manage these estates, considering staff, students and the wider community as stakeholders.  

  • Lara Newman (Chief Executive- LocatED) 
  • Niamh Cronin (Associate- vHH Architects)
  • Lilija Oblecova (Senior Architect & Passivhaus Designer- ECD Architects) 
  • Jon Ward (Director of Estates & Facilities- Creative Education Trust) 
  • Dave Tiller (Technical Surveyor- Ventrolla) 

Lara has over twenty- five years experience in property and development. Having worked with many of the UK’s biggest landowners, agents and developers, Lara has held a number of strategic, leadership and board positions. Her experience of property deals and complex capital investment projects for government education capital programmes, underpinned her determination to bring commercial insight and rigour to education sector acquisitions and developments.  

Niamh was born in South Africa and moved to Ireland to complete secondary school before going to university at Edinburgh College of Art. Before moving to London, Niamh worked in Ireland, South Africa and Scotland, on a variety of project types from healthcare to residential. Since coming to the practice in 2011 she has been involved education projects including Houlton School.  

Lilija is a Senior Architect at ECD and is a Certified European Passivhaus Designer who is particularly interested in retrofit of existing buildings. She led a retrofit feasibility study that looked at a selection of school archetypes in Brent, aiming to develop common strategies that could be applied across the whole estate. Prior to joining ECD in 2022, she worked on various residential and mixed-use projects in large London-based practices. 

Jon has worked for a range of multi-academy trusts since 2007 on more than 50 estates and facilities projects. In 2017 he was recruited as a consultant by Creative Education Trust to manage the construction of the new Michael Dickson Building for Ash Green. He joined Creative Education Trust on a full-time basis as Head of Estates & Facilities in September 2018.  

Dave is an industry stalwart. His world-renowned technical expertise is unmatched with forty- three years in the fenestration industry. He is often called upon to speak at national events and delivers RIBA CPD for Ventrolla. Having worked for Ventrolla for over 15 years, Dave is a trusted expert who oversees the Ventrolla Academy, delivering training, CPDs, and technical advice to all surveyors.



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