Strabane Academy was founded in 2011, following the merger of Strabane Grammar and High Schools and for many years, it faced the logistical headache of operating from two separate sites. Woodvale Construction provided the solution with a purpose-built, 10,000 sqm, state-of-the-art education facility constructed to BREEAM Excellent accreditation.
Currently accommodating 516 pupils, the school includes a learning resource centre, information technology suite, school library, canteen and a sixth form centre. The seven-hectare site has two rugby pitches, a hockey pitch and five tennis courts. There is also a fully equipped gym within the school.
The Strabane Academy construction has provided both short- and long-term employment opportunities for the local community. The excellent education facilities enable teaching in a broader range of subjects while the first-class sports facilities encourage community involvement and outreach to other schools and clubs.
Commenting on the project, Emmett Teggart MCIOB, Contracts Manager for Woodvale Construction said, “It was important to us that the project provided measurable community benefits and we were extremely proud that the social value we delivered was recognised by the RICS, which awarded the project the 2020 Social Impact Award.
“As a local contractor, we were aware that Strabane has one of the highest unemployment rates in Northern Ireland. We appointed a dedicated Social Impact Manager, Yvonne Conway MCIOB to liaise with Education Authority, Derry & Strabane District Council, SIB’s Buy Social Team, regional colleges and schools and local training providers to ensure that the project delivered real and meaningful social value by providing employment work placements and apprenticeships for local youths.”
The RICS judges praised the project, describing it as “a huge achievement by anybody’s standards.” The project began in January 2018 and was delivered in two phases. Phase one provided the new build, with phase two delivering the rugby pitches, associated site and groundworks and demolition of the legacy school building. The school remained fully operational throughout the construction of the new facilities, with Phase two completed and handed over in December 2020.
There were several major challenges and risks faced by the project team members who were able to overcome them via a shared risk register.
Emmett said, “There were cost challenges due to extensive rock outcrops, the topography of the site (necessitating substantial retaining walls), contamination by Japanese Knotweed, etc. The scheme also involved complex phasing to allow for the continued operation of the existing school on the site, followed by the demolition of the school after decant and the completion of the site roads, bus drop-off, car parking and playing pitches.”
The project was in safe hands with Site Manager, Wesley Lindsay MCIOB. A long-standing part of the Woodvale team with over 40 years’ experience, Wesley reflected on the Strabane project, “The success of this build is the sum of its parts – good design combined with authentic construction skills and a level-headed client.”
Digital construction skills were employed to access 3D models and documents from the Common Data Environment (CDE), Sherlayer. “Collaboration in a common platform and use of a 3D model of Strabane Academy straight from the CDE was beneficial at the early stages of the project lifecycle,” explained Emmett, “as it afforded our subcontractors on site a view of the project for better visual coordination for works.”
The Covid lockdown presented an unprecedented challenge. Post lockdown, Woodvale created a Covid-19 secure workplace. A Covid-19 Compliance Officer was nominated, and they introduced site-specific Covid-19 Risk Assessment and Safety Operation Procedures and a back to work induction.
“It was our priority at this difficult time to deliver our services effectively, efficiently, but most of all safely.”
“On a personal level, this has been a fantastic project to be involved with,” said Emmett. “It has seen the culmination of many years of hard work between the client’s design and our site management team. We were very proud to handover the project to the Education Authority and wish Strabane Academy many years of success.”
David Hampton, Principal for Strabane Academy, was full of praise for the work completed, “I have no hesitation in stating that Woodvale put the interests of the whole school community to the forefront and delivered a project of the highest standard,” he said. “There is no doubt that there were periods of stress due to unforeseen problems, not least the outbreak of Covid -19. However, Woodvale remained open-minded and understanding of the school pressures, and they worked tirelessly to support any request that we presented.”
Emmett added, “In conjunction with our supply chain partners, we are delighted to have delivered measurable social value in the Strabane area. We know we made a positive impact within the local community as recognised by our success at the RICS awards.”
Client: The Education Authority
Main Contractor: Woodvale Construction Company Ltd
Mechanical Contractor: Vaughan Engineering Services Ltd
Electrical Contractor: Vaughan Engineering Services Ltd
Architect: Samuel Stevenson & Sons
Project Manager: Samuel Stevenson & Sons
Vaughan Engineering Services Ltd
Vaughan Engineering’s outstanding M+E engineering expertise brought the £18m Strabane Academy to life by supplying, installing and commissioning the complex building services to this new build project.
The two-storey building consists of classrooms, school meals kitchen, dining space and drama rooms with underfloor heating and heat recovery ventilation throughout. The project also comprised, BMS, LED lighting, PV, pitch lighting, fire and intruder alarms, AV and domestic water services incorporating a rainwater harvesting system. In addition, the technology building was provided with compressed air, welding gases and a dust extraction system.
As with most construction projects, coordination and programming were key to the smooth running of this project, as Gavin Toman, Construction Director for Vaughan Engineering explained, “We always operate with a collaborative approach, and communication was vital in establishing the extent of the requirements of the design team and the client’s expectations.
“We led meetings with our specialist supply chain involving the main contractor and design team along the way, agreeing milestones for key information to be available to other trades and allowing time for design team approvals. A detailed programme was produced and monitored regularly. Where any challenges arose – and had the potential to cause delay – these were discussed and solutions agreed so as not to impact on the overall completion of the project.”
In the absence of any BIM models and due to the complex shape of the building, Vaughan Engineering’s BIM team developed a 3D model of the entire building, which formed the basis of the installation approach.
When it came to identification, monitoring and rectification of post-handover defects, Vaughan Engineering employed the latest tech.
“We used a quality monitoring software to record defects and allocate responsibility. The software was linked to the building model and sent reminders to the responsible sub-contractors. This ensured all defects were recorded and rectified.”
Vaughan Engineering Services is based in Newtownabbey, with offices in Manchester and Newcastle. Celebrating 60 years in business in 2020, it is now a third generation family business. Many members of the team have trained with the company and risen through the ranks to management positions. Several members of staff have worked their entire working life with the company some retiring after 50+ years’ service.
Brankin Engineering also falls under the Vaughan Group. Brankin delivered the full ventilation installation for Strabane Academy with all ductwork manufactured locally in its Newtownabbey-based, state-of-the-art facility.
Vaughan Engineering is driven by a responsibility to engineer sophisticated buildings that meet the needs of the people who live and work in them. They do this by providing high quality, safe and best value building engineering services through their commitment to operational and technical excellence.
“We have delivered some of the most technically complex buildings in the country,” said Gavin. “We embrace these types of projects where we can investigate and implement the latest working practices and technology to enable us to enhance our knowledge and the end product for our clients.
“Our dedication to this industry and our core values of integrity and quality have remained unchanged since the founding our company in 1955.”
The family firm embraced the project’s social clause with the construction team providing work placement and training, which was advertised and sourced through local agencies, jobs and benefits offices.
“We have a sense of pride, having been being part of the build and completion of this state-of-the-art facility which will continue to service the pupils, staff and local community for many years to come,” said Gavin.
“It was a pleasure to work with the Woodvale team and we would welcome the opportunity again on another venture.”
RC Engineering (NI) Ltd
RC Engineering (NI) Ltd provided bike parking, bus shelters, goals and dugouts for the Strabane Academy project.
The family-run, metal fabrication business has built a strong reputation throughout the UK and Ireland, designing and manufacturing a wide range of products and solutions. With continuous growth they have added to their core business and now fabricate bike shelters and smoking shelters.
Following close talks with the Woodvale Construction team, a design was agreed to manufacture and install 23 bayside shelters finished in hot dipped, galvanised and polyester-powder-coated grey finish for Strabane Academy. RC Engineering also fabricated and installed rugby goal posts, hockey goals and dugouts for the project.
“We can tailor our service to each individual client, offering unique and bespoke resolutions when necessary,” said Enda O`Neill, Managing Director RC Engineering.
“Our fundamental goal is to resolve all issues brought to us with the upmost precision.”
RC Engineering’s expanding customer base is both commercial as well as residential, as Enda explained, “We don’t concentrate on a specific area; our eyes and ears are open to everyone in need – private or public.”
The highly skilled work team continuously develops the product range, always committed to providing top quality solutions, delivered on time with exceptional customer service and after sales care and at great value for money.
Commenting on the job, Enda said, “As always, it was a pleasure working with Woodvale Construction on this project. Darragh and Wesley from Woodvale made life easy for us on site with their plan.”
O’Neill Fencing, one of Ireland’s leading fencing contractors, was tasked with supplying and installing all of the fencing elements for Strabane Academy.
In total, they provided the site’s main perimeter boundary, sports fencing around the newly constructed sports pitch, tennis court fencing systems and their structurally engineered and certified ball-stop netting system, which can be seen along the main entrance to the Academy.
Based in Strabane, Co Tyrone, the expert fencing team prides itself on supplying the highest quality products and first-rate workmanship. Key to their continued success is their company philosophy: ‘getting it right first time’. Time is dedicated to listening to their clients’ objectives to establish their needs and ultimately ensure the right project is delivered on time and within budget.
That commitment to ‘getting it right first time’ was evident at an early stage on this project, as Ambrose Houston – Manager at O`Neill Fencing explained, “From an early stage, we noticed that the ball-stop netting structure that was detailed at construction stage wasn’t going to work due to restricted space on site. This led us to working closely with Woodvale Construction, the project architect and our structural design team in terms of redesigning the system to one which was more suitable for the site – the end result speaks for itself.”
Commenting on the project, Ambrose said, “The project was on our doorstep and from the point we were awarded the contract, we just wanted to get stuck in.
“It was a pleasure to collaborate with Woodvale Construction’s site team on the Strabane Academy project. Wesley, the Project Site Manager, was always accommodating with any requests we had, or if we needed any assistance on site.”
Junckers, Europe’s leading manufacturer of solid wood flooring, was the ideal choice to provide a performance (sprung) floor that could work in conjunction with underfloor heating at Strabane Academy.
Commenting on the project, Declan Dolan, Country Manager for Junckers Ltd said, “This was a smooth project for us in terms of how things went. The main reason for this was the accuracy and detail of the specifications provided by Samuel Stevenson & Sons.
“The early intervention from Woodvale on the fundamental requirements of the system from a construction perspective and how it would work with underfloor heating ensured that everything went well when the time came for the installation.
“The floor was installed by Classique Floor Design who has an experienced team of installers that are adept at court markings and overcoating floors as well as installing the floor to high professional standards. This meant that our role was very straightforward on site.”
Junckers is the only manufacturer that can complement its range of solid hardwood floors with its own range of purpose-made wood-care products for regular maintenance and renovation of wooden floors. Their wood floors and wood-care products are produced in Denmark based on the solid traditions of Danish craftsmanship.
Declan was full of praise of the main contractor team. “Working with Woodvale is always a pleasant experience because they know exactly what they are doing,” he said. “They have a wealth of experience in school building and, specifically from our perspective, they are experts with underfloor heating which means our job is enjoyable when it comes to dealing with them.”
For further information about Junckers wood floors
call Declan Dolan: +44 (0)7980236130 or
email: [email protected]
Synthetic Sports Solutions (SSS)
Synthetic Sports Solutions (SSS) supplied and expertly installed Fieldturf hockey and tennis surfaces to provide an all-in service for Woodvale Construction on the Strabane Academy project.
The quality and durability of the Fieldturf products outweigh the lure of cheaper alternatives, as Wilson Purdy, Director for SSS explains, “Some of the hockey fields we have supplied and installed are over 15 years old and are still in daily use, performing to the highest requirements of FIH and meeting the expectations of clients to this day.
“Fieldturf has been chosen for some of the most prestigious projects in Ireland including: University of Limerick, DCU, Blackrock College, Brandywell Football Stadium and Queen’s University, Belfast. We have also installed the artificial pitch at the famous Cardiff Arms Park which most recently hosted the Women’s Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland.”
At Strabane Academy any potential problem areas were identified in pre-contract meetings and ongoing site consultation meetings. These were easily dealt with or mitigated against during the build.
“As the surfaces were installed during the November/December period the ability to act quickly and take advantage of weather windows was particularly important for this project because the surfaces were weather sensitive,” said Wilson. “Diligence and adaptability were required to ensure successful installation of both surfaces, on time and on budget and to the contract specifications.”
Commenting on the project, Wilson said, “Whether it is a small or large-scale installation, customer satisfaction is the driving factor in what we do and knowing that we have done a good job.
“Right from the off, the relationship with the main contractor, consultants and client was easy. Having the right team always delivers the right result.”
For more information,
T: +44 (0)7841 207 307 or visit:
Doorways supplied all internal doors for the new build project at Strabane Academy.
Doorways are Northern Ireland’s leading supplier of doors, architectural ironmongery, access control systems and door automation to the construction industry.
For this job, Doorways successfully delivered 200+ paint grade flush and glazed doors. Despite being an uncomplicated order, the team afforded the same high level of service as they would on more demanding projects.
“Once the order was received, we provided a detailed schedule of works,” said Robert McNeil, Sales Manager for Doorways. “From that point, we focused on meeting project deadlines and worked closely with the foreman to achieve that.”
From design, specification and functionality right through to fire certification, the experts at Doorways can help save you time and hassle on your next project. Their approach towards every job incorporates their four core principles: Quality, Choice, Design and Service.
“Our priority, whatever the size or type of project construction, is to support the contractor’s design and site team by making sure we’re meeting their client’s specification, fire certification and budget requirements.”
Commenting on the job, Robert said, “We’ve completed several schools for Woodvale, including design and build projects. This was a very straightforward job for us, but as with all projects, we focused on delivering great service.”
With a growing list of jobs completed for major contractors, Doorways are proving to be specialists at delivering the right solutions for any construction project.
M+E consulting engineers and BREEAM assessors Mott MacDonald collaborated with Samuel Stevenson & Sons Architects to provide a sustainable BREEAM Excellent school at Strabane Academy.
Services included: air source heat pumps to provide domestic hot water; photovoltaic panels providing electricity and harvesting rainwater for use flushing toilets. Also, low energy LED lighting and controls, condensing gas boilers and underfloor heating, classroom mechanical ventilation via heat recovery units carbon dioxide sensors to control fan speeds, all contributed to low energy demand and running costs.
Commenting on the project, Ian Bryson, Principal Mechanical Engineer and Mott MacDonald Project Manager said, “From inception, we worked with the Architect to reduce building U-values and increase air tightness to maximise thermal efficiency of the buildings. We successfully managed co-ordination workshops with Woodvale Construction’s team to ensure all M&E services were modelled in 3D Revit and co-ordinated with structure and ceilings to reduce co-ordination issues during construction.”
T: +44 (0)28 90895 850
Strabane-based company BH Glazing Ltd recently kept it local by fabricating and installing aluminium windows, doors and high-rise curtain walling for the new state-of-the-art Strabane Academy campus. The project also included installation of Brise Soleil and louvres.
Commenting on the project, Paul Robinson, Managing Director said, “We worked closely with Woodvale Construction to ensure all design and technical specifications were implemented on site to the highest possible standard.” He added, “Site Manager, Wesley Lindsey co-ordinated works smoothly, making this project a pleasure to work on.”
Founded in 1990, BH Glazing adopts an attitude of being only as good as their last job, and is constantly striving to provide effective and timely solutions, however challenging the programme. They hold membership of Secured by Design and can offer clients enhanced security options on selected window and door systems.
“We have built up a strong working relationship with Woodvale Construction over many years, and were delighted to be their preferred fabricator on such a prestigious project.”
T: +44 (0)28 7138 2322
E: [email protected]
Classique Floor Design
The highly experienced Classique Floor Design team of skilled craftsmen and fitters installed Junckers Flooring and PVC flooring to Strabane Academy.
Gerflor PVC vinyl with 100mm welded skirting was laid using automatic welding machines to speed up the process on site. All floors were primed and self-levelled with Mapie Levelling Screed.
Commenting on the project, Kevin Carlin, Quantity Surveyor for Classique Floor Design said, “The Junckers Flooring and PVC flooring really add to the overall look of this state-of-the-art school with modern colours and designs used throughout. We installed the Junckers Flooring in the sports courts, which looks fantastic and will be used for many sporting events in the years to come.
“Working with Woodvale Construction on this project was a real pleasure and the site ran smoothly from start to finish. Any small obstacles we encountered were greeted with positivity and support to ensure a successful plan of action.”
T: Kevin: +44 (0)7596113987
T: Martin: +44 (0)7912697810
or: +44 (0)28 7126 1885
Stephens Catering Equipment
Ireland’s largest and longest established catering and food service equipment company, Stephens Catering Equipment, was the kitchen supplier for Strabane Academy.
The Broughshane-based firm worked together with Woodvale Construction to deliver first class catering facilities for the school.
Highly experienced in school projects, Stephens Catering Equipment was the ideal partner for this state-of-the-art education facility. Their reputation and market leading position is built on their commitment to professionalism, expertise, customer understanding, product quality and service.
Specialising in supplying innovative, energy and labour-saving equipment, boosted by an expert in-house fabrication team, where counters and coffee kiosk were manufactured. Stephens Catering Equipment can provide the ideal kitchen and catering solution for all sizes of projects.
With over 15 members of staff holding Certified Foodservice Professional (CFSP) qualifications, Stephens Catering Equipment can be relied on to deliver the highest quality of service in the catering and hospitality industry.
Stephens Catering Equipment have worked with Woodvale on many projects and look forward to working with them again.
Castle Glass Ltd
Castle Glass Ltd installed all the internal glazing and high specification fire-resistant glass for the new build Strabane Academy.
The Castlederg-based company has been in business for 32 years and can supply and fit a wide range of products from specialist glass to double and triple glazing throughout Northern Ireland.
“We manufacture all our own products, so we are able to meet specific needs of projects such as this while also being able to guarantee the highest standards,” explained David McMahon, Director. “This was an excellent project to be involved in and it perfectly highlights our attention to detail and showcases our industry- leading fire-resistant glass.”
All products manufactured by Castle Glass Ltd are fabricated using the highest quality materials to meet both British and European Standards.
Products available from Castle Glass Ltd include specialist glass, splashbacks, coloured glass, laminated glass, high specification fire-resistant glass and sandblasted glass. The company also offers toughened glass, Optiwhite, Bronze, Grey and blue and green tinted glass, anti-bandit, acoustic and self-cleaning and wired glass.
T: +44 (0)28 8167 9707
Tobermore provided block paving, paving flags, step flags and step risers to the Strabane Academy project.
Products included: Tegula block paving along with a Tegula circle to create a focal point of interest on the scheme, Mayfair step flags, Charcoal step risers and Tactile paving flags to assist blind or partially blind pedestrians distinguish between different types of crossing zones.
Founded in 1942, Tobermore is a world-class manufacturer of paving and walling. The firm is going from strength to strength, currently employing over 350 people and expanding further into the UK.
Commenting on the project, Martin McKenna, Head of NI/ROI Sales at Tobermore said, “Tobermore was involved with the design team from specification stage right through to project delivery. We are proud to supply a local educational scheme with attractive paving which complements the building and its surroundings.”