New senior school for Blackrock College
The brief for this building was to provide a new base for the senior years of Blackrock College, a 1000 pupil post-primary school. The building was to respect its historic setting while providing an exciting educational environment.
The building encloses the fourth side of a quadrangle formed by the protected Castledawson House and College Chapel, and Jubilee Hall – 18th, 19th and early 20th century buildings respectively. Science laboratories and a study are at ground floor, with the fifth and sixth year classrooms and assembly areas on the floors overhead. Two stairs link the floors through generous voids.
The main elevation echoes themes and rhythms of the retained buildings. The external materials are glass, stone, aluminium and zinc. The arcaded ground floor echoes the arched elevation of the earlier building. Granite walling compliments the existing buildings and adds a formal quality to the quadrangle. The entrance is emphasised by a separate plane of stone, set forward of the main elevation.
The easterly orientation and brightness of the classrooms provides a comfortable teaching environment. The integrated ICT infrastructure facilitates teaching preparation on the school’s intranet and the delivery of material to each classroom. Many classrooms have smart projection boards.
This is a low energy building. It is naturally lit and vented, with fan assistance only in toilets. Artificial lighting is controlled by daylight sensors and PIRs.
Cross ventilation to the assembly areas is provided from windows on the west side and ducted vents, above the classroom ceilings, on the east. The building is highly insulated and sealed. Windows are manually controlled and have Low E glazing; blinds provide control of glare and heat is delivered by individually controlled radiators.
The internal finishes are robust; walls are of painted block and plaster, ceilings are of acoustically treated perforated plaster to provide appropriate acoustic conditions. The joinery and panelling is of Oak and floor finishes are of linoleum and tile.