Campaign for a new special school is realised as the
building and design team pulls out all the stops…
The opening of a second campus for Knockevin Special School was the result of a long campaign led by Principal Anne Cooper, so when the team from main contractors, Kelly, McEvoy and Brown, was awarded this contract, the pressure was on to deliver the long-awaited facility.
The £1.7million contract was part of an overall £6million contract under the Government’s School Enhancement Programme (SEP).
The new Knockevin Early Years Centre in Dundrum, which is one of the biggest projects earmarked for the scheme, provides a second campus for Downpatrick-based Knockevin Special School which was coming under increasing pressure for space.
As the area’s first early years’ assessment unit for infants with severe special needs, the centre caters for younger children who will then transfer to the existing senior campus.
Located on the former site of Downshire Primary School, bordered on one side by a busy stretch of the A2 coast road at beautiful Dundrum Bay, the new school can cater for up to 32 children from three to eight years old in four classrooms.
For Martin Brown, Senior Quantity Surveyor at Kelly, McEvoy and Brown, the company’s usual pride in every project was further enhanced on this one.
“We were absolutely delighted to be involved with this important project that will make such a real difference to children and their families,” he said. “I know they had been campaigning for the additional facilities for quite some time, so once they got the green light it was up to us to deliver a high quality product as quickly and efficiently as possible
“The school was very clear about what they wanted, and a highly effective design team made our job a lot more straightforward. The project was well designed and planned and was completed under budget and within the 12 month contract period, so everyone was happy.”
Two interesting aspects of the project were the site preparation works and the roof. Due to existing ground conditions, a ground improvement technique known as vibro compaction was used to stabilise the site before building could commence.
Construction of the new single-storey school building and multi-purpose hall was comprised of a partial steel frame with a rendered blockwork and natural stone finish complete with internal and external curtilage site works and drainage.
The roof consisted of a steel deck, 170mm thick insulation and a standing seam zinc covering. The roof also included two large modular roof lights, one of which was 22 metres long. Meeting these challenges, however, was very much a case of following the best laid plans.
“Working in collaboration with the project manager, design team and excellent sub-contractors we were able to put a plan of action into place to meet challenges like these and the project ran smoothly because of this. Vibro compaction ground remediation was a new construction technique for us, but it worked out well. ” added Martin.
This forward-thinking was also in place when managing the site which is in a beautiful location, with a busy road, near neighbours that included a church hall and an occupied dwelling, and the close proximity of the shoreline all having to be considered. The project also achieved a BREEAM performance rating of ‘Very Good’.
These high standards delivered on education projects is an area that Kelly McEvoy and Brown is becoming well respected for and as Martin says, “Kelly McEvoy & Brown have a wealth of construction experience in the Commercial, Healthcare, Ecclesiastical, Leisure and Residential sectors and in recent years we have gained further valuable experience on education projects like Knockevin Special School.”