Holy Cross College, Strabane

This project involved the replacement of the Convent Grammar, Our Lady of Mercy College and St Colman’s High School with a new college for 1800 pupils for the Bishop of Derry.

tracey architects derry | holy cross college strabane

We were invited by Jarvis Plc. to act as architects on the new school due to our previous experience in having designed 2 of the schools to be replaced.

The site of the new school is on the playing fields of St Colman’s High School. The brief called for the new school to be built before the existing school could be demolished.

This created a problem during the design process in that we had to devise a system to keep school users and construction traffic separate.

Negotiations were also held with adjoining land owners about possibility of acquiring additional land to facilitate the new entrance arrangements.

Our solution was based on maximising daylight and reducing on the dark artificially lit corridors. A central street was planned which was wide enough to act as flexible space (recitals, lunch areas, class bases) off which were located the various classroom blocks. Advantage was taken of the spectacular views from the site as well as orientation.

Although we had been involved in design and build contracts previously this was our first PFI contract. A structured series of design team meetings were set up which included the Main Contractor and Sub-Contractors to discuss and agree best value for money.

Numerous discussions and meetings were held with statutory authorities regarding:-

Road Service Requirements (Vehicular access, bus access and collection points)

Planning Service (The school site was bounded on 3 sides by housing developments and we had to   demonstrate the impact such a large development would have on the amenity of the adjoining areas.

Building Control (Due to our “street” concept we had to satisfy the strict fire regulations regarding means of escape).

The proposals were formally and informally presented to the School Authorities, Department of Education and CCMS during the design process and comment made was fed back into the development of the scheme.

The plans were submitted to the Planning Authority in March 2004. Although the bid by Jarvis was unsuccessful the actual design received the highest marks of the submitted schemes and the whole process gave us invaluable insight into the issues regarding amalgamation of schools and the PFI process.

Tracey Architects, 29 Clarendon Street, Derry, BT48 7ER        |        Tel: 028 7136 4202        |        Email: info@traceyassoc.com

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