A new school house for Sandford Park School opened September 2019. The new School House forms part of Phase 2 of an overall masterplan, including 10 new classrooms, internal and external social spaces and a new hockey pitch. The new school house will consist of ten classrooms, three meeting rooms and a social space within the new school house. New areas of brick and concrete paving with a mixture of soft landscaping will be introduced. The new school house is a two storey brick and timber building, entered through a generous covered outdoor space which looks back down the school internal ‘street’. The heart of the new building is a large sociable social space with forum seating which links the two floors and looks out to the playing fields. Corridors are wide with areas for seating and lockers to enhance positive social interaction; they will be bright and lively spaces with high level windows and exposed timber roof trusses. The design reflects our interest in the architecture of Ranelagh village, and in the historic buildings on the school site. The brick walls, strongly expressed vertical timbers and grey pitched roof respond particularly to the old house. It carries aspects of the experience we have gained in the design of other schools, like Ranelagh Multidenominational School down the street and St Angela’s secondary school in Cork, both of which have proven to be very successful in use. One of the outstanding features of the site is the sense of openness as you approach the centre of the site from Sandford Road. This has been retained as an important feature of the overall masterplan. Therefore the new hockey pitch has been located in its proposed location to ensure the requirements of the school and the sense of openness are maintained. The new School House has been carefully positioned to form a conclusion to the street, while on the park side it completes a slightly curved line, a crescent set up by the fronts of the old house, science block and canteen. It complements the old house but does not compete with it or step forward of it. The position of this entrance space along this axis gives orientation to the building as one approaches from a distance. This is an important aspect in relation to the overall context of the new building. The new space between the canteen and the new school house is seen as a focus for external gatherings and activities including debates and outside performances in summer. To accommodate this a set of concrete tribune steps, partly covered with a canopy, will be built opposite the new school house porch.
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