Bunscoil Bheanna Boirche, Castlewellan

The development was on a site occupied by an existing primary school, which had been damaged by fire.  The site occupies a location within a very residential context and the school accommodates children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old.  Accommodation within the new unit was to include the provision of 3no Classroom base areas, a Resource Room, Staffroom, Hygiene Area and associated Storage and Sanitary spaces over a gross floor area of 380sqm.  An additional

stand-alone Dining Room unit for school dinner provision was also added in as a follow-on scheme as part of the school redevelopment strategy. 

The project was delivered on budget and within programme.
The proposed construction method was to develop a modular system whereby high quality, bespoke units were to be prefabricated off-site, transported to the school and installed and finished insitu.  This necessitated a collaborative process between the Client team and Design team to arrive at a solution which was both functional and aesthetically pleasing, dispelling any pre-conceptions with regard to prefab construction.

Internally and externally the design was to be accessible and involved substantial external works to provide a revised front entrance and ‘school concourse’ which allowed greater safety in the transition of children from the arrival of buses and into the building.  Liaison with the Client team and the school officers, in particular, was critical in this sort of element to ensure the design and the reality is both functional and practical.  Internally the corridors and door widths are designed to BS8300 and all entrance/exit points are designed as level access.  Referenced texts also included Building Bulletins 99, 101 and 102, in terms of general requirements, school ventilation strategies and special education requirements, as well as the DENI Handbook for Primary Schools.

The building was to be single storey with a ‘gull-wing’ roof profile finished in composite insulated panels with articulated ‘bullnose’ profiling at the eaves.  The modules were steel frames with timber infill, insulated and clad externally with plastisol coated plywood panels on a ventilated backing system.  Natural timber cladding boards were used to articulate the façade in certain areas and dual-coloured polyester powder coated window units brought vitality to each elevation.  A bespoke entrance canopy with coloured, splayed columns was another feature which added both aesthetic quality and functionality in that it helps to identify the entrance, acting as a ‘wayfinding’ tool. 

Client: South Eastern Education and Library Board Project Cost: £850,000 Completion Date: 2010

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