Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

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Facility of the week

Ardscoil Mhuire, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, Ireland

Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1919, the school was relocated in January 2003 to new facilities. The school acts as a type of hill town where each student experiences the original geological hillside by means of two gently sloping corridors, which connect the three levels of the school. The main entrance is protected from the prevailing southwest winds by providing a sequence of ramped spaces that lead up into the sheltered front door. The physical education hall is positioned beside a group of mature native trees, which form a protected entrance route into the hall for independent use by the community.

The architectural challenge was to organise the range of rooms, other facilities and circulation spaces are organised coherently. It was also important for the school to have a “heart”, such that each student feels part of an educational community. The general purpose area, library, reception and courtyard were therefore placed at the centre of the school. Students circulate through these spaces to access either the main courtyard or the three other courtyards, each of which has its own distinct character: the Meditation Court, the Art Court and the Music Court.

The school’s floor plate is pushed into the hill, allowing the roofscape to run parallel with the slope and to form renewed contours lines. The construction method is precise and rational; the resultant volumes formed by the roof – with light boxes and ventilating chimneys – modify and animate the rigorous and economic plan. The internal environment created is full of light with cross ventilation for each classroom. Windows were placed to frame ground views and sky views. Transparency across the plan connects the community of the buildings to each other.

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About this database

The OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments (CELE) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) launched the “Database of Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investment” on 29 September 2011. It seeks to inform the planning, design, construction, management and evaluation of educational spaces, combining resources for strategic investment in educational infrastructure, with exemplary school and university facilities from all over the world.

Drawing on the output of a joint CELE/European Investment Bank project on “Strategic Investment Planning for Educational Infrastructure” and more than 60 exemplary schools and universities featured in CELE’s flagship publication, “Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011”, this database is a unique international resource for educators, designers, policymakers and researchers alike.

Users of the database are encouraged to add their own resource material, or submit new completed university or school projects for publication on the database. OECD and EIB welcome your input to our project!

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