Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

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Facility of the week

Archbishop Ryan Senior National School, Lucan, Co. Dublin, Ireland

The main purpose of this project was to pilot the Ministry of Education and Science’s Generic Repeat Design (GRD), which consists of a design for a standard 8, 12, and 16 classroom school. More than 50 schools will be constructed to this optimised, low energy design on sites with varied orientation: the GRD school consumes less than 40% of the energy used by a school built to CIBSE good practice standards, without significant additional cost. The GRD schools program also allows school projects to be fast tracked, and has a huge potential to reduce the environmental impact of Irish schools within a short time period. The key objective is to meet the demand for rapid accommodation for large numbers of students. Many of these schools from earlier decades have stood the test of time and reinforce the school as a significant civic building type in the Irish rural and urban landscape. The GRD has evolved this procurement method with complete superstructure tender packages available.

The key concept behind the school was to allow for additional capacity. The 8-classroom school acts as a core area containing all ancillary spaces, including the school hall. It can be extended from 12 to 16 classrooms. By locating fire stairs at corridor ends, it is possible to add further extensions in two directions - for example a special unit, extra resource teaching rooms or classrooms - with minimum disruption to the school in operation. Accessibility was another important element of the brief, in particular for students with special educational needs. The school's layout reflects simple internal orientation and clear way-finding, with provision of an excellent acoustic environment throughout the school. To serve as a learning tool, the school was fitted with additional sensors and meters, and a remote monitoring interface for the controls system. These are linked to a touch screen in the atrium with a cartoon character encouraging pupils and visitors to view and interact with the real-time energy use of the building. Individual room temperature control is measured by digital room sensors, which display the room temperature and allow the occupants to adjust it to a high degree of accuracy and comfort. All spaces enjoy high levels and balanced natural light, without need for additional artificial lighting for 80% of the working hours of 9.00am to 3.00pm, throughout the school year. The building is naturally ventilated in most areas. All rooms have single sided natural ventilation, with the exception of the school hall, which is cross ventilated by means of additional high-level roof windows. Classroom depths have been minimised in order to maximise ventilation and daylight distribution. The school embodies passive security strategies as well as active elements. Elements such as a large and secure entrance and visitors’ lobby, a central atrium, glazed screens and views to and from the upper level balcony corridor into the hall seek to improve management, supervision, security and sense of connection between spaces. The use of two-storeys reduces the accessible ground perimeter and reduces the building’s footprint. The perimeter of the site is enclosed with decorative railings and landscaping to encourage the public to look into the school and prevent vandalism and unwanted visitors.

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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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The OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments (CELE) presents the top 6 school and university buildings in ”Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011”.

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