A Trade Magazine for Northern Ireland's Building & Design Professionals
Willowbridge School, Enniskillen
State-of-the-art facilities at Willowbridge School for pupils with special needs benefit from an attention to detail from the construction and design team…
The care and attention displayed by Lowry Building & Civil Engineering is not restricted to the building process, as the company proved at Willowbridge School in Enniskillen.
Willowbridge School prides itself on creating an environment that is happy and caring and where pupils, their families and the wider community feel welcome. So moving a building site onto the school grounds was always going to be a challenge.
However, the attention to detail and sympathetic working practices of Lowry Building & Civil Engineering ensured the building of a new extension alongside refurbishment works ran as smoothly as possible – with the requirements of pupils at the special needs school a top priority.
The £3.9million extension and refurbishment works have provided state-of-the-art accommodation that replaces the majority of the Edwards Campus (former Erne School building). The works included new classrooms for Art, Home Economics, General Studies, Multi-Function Rooms and a new entrance for the school. In addition, new sixth form provision has been provided. The extension is linked to the existing Lendrum Campus (formerly the Elmbrook School building), with the former modular buildings that made up the Edwards Campus now demolished to create new car parking.
While Lowry Building & Civil Engineering has experience in education projects, this was the first time the company had worked on a special needs school. However, the company’s expertise ensured the build process ran smoothly while also taking into consideration the requirements of the client.
“Meeting the needs of the client was the most important aspect of the project and was over and above our usual focus on health and safety on the site,” explained Stephen Harpur, Senior Contracts Manager. “On every project, we pride ourselves on working closely with the client but, in this instance, it was vital that we didn’t disrupt the daily routine of the schools.
“We held weekly meetings with the school and the Education Authority’s Client Representative and, at times, we even had meetings twice a day. These proved useful and sometimes we reworked our plans for that week or that day to facilitate the pupils.”
Highlighting the company’s solution- driven approach, Lowry Building & Civil Engineering also worked extensively over the school holidays in a bid to avoid any unnecessary disruption.
“We brought in extra staff to fast track certain sections of the work,” added Stephen. “For example, we linked the new extension with the existing building over the summer holidays. Again, the fire, security and nurse call systems between the old and new buildings were also connected while the pupils were off.”
Even general aspects of the project, such as traffic management, required an additional level of attention.
“As many of the children have special needs, we had to ensure they could be dropped off as close to the front doors as possible. The staff-to-pupil ratio is also greater, which meant we had to create an additional temporary car park to accommodate staff.
“These were all further challenges, but given our experience on large scale construction projects, we were able to find the right solutions that ensured everything remained on track. We are proud to have been involved in creating a wonderful new school for Willowbridge and hope it makes a real difference to the pupils and staff.”