After decades of learning in mobile classrooms, Braidside Integrated Primary School landed on the opportunity to begin anew. The Northern Ireland Department of Education appointed Tetra Tech as project manager and CDM coordinator of a new £5m state-of-the-art facility in Ballymena.
The develop-and-construct scheme brought our client a new 14-classroom primary and nursery school that brings together children and staff from various backgrounds.
Considering Braidside had spent the prior 25 years in tired old modular classrooms, this project represented something personal to them, and it was our job to deliver on their ambitions.
Navigating limitations…and Covid-19
Copyright belongs to Glasgiven Contracts Ltd.
From inception to completion, Tetra Tech oversaw progress on the evolving design, planning application, and tender release process.
Before any construction could begin, the existing school needed demolishing, which required the team to remove asbestos and perform remediation works on contaminated ground.
At the design and development stage, planning restrictions posed obstacles. With the site adjacent to a dual carriageway, the team had to achieve safe noise levels that met the acoustics requirement for teaching children. Much of the design effort focused on alleviating this concern, down to the ventilation strategy used to get around the marginal opening the windows had. One of the solutions involved installing acoustics screens to reduce noise.
Rendered panels and some aluminium and a composite timber cladding makes up the block and brick superstructure. Underfloor heating and mechanical ventilation systems regulate the airflow and the temperature, with PV panels on the roof.
As with many projects, Covid-19 saddled this development with new challenges to navigate, locking the site down for three months. Whereas a project would normally get more people onsite to finish a project before handover, social distancing guidelines prevented this.
But despite the limited personnel and the hard deadline of end of July, the project team still got the job done in time for the start of the 2020 school year.
First-class school facilities
In addition to the classrooms, the new school building features a sports hall, school meals accommodation, and a separate building for the nursery school.
“We are extremely pleased with how this project turned out, and much of that success is owed to the great cooperation between all parties involved, including Tetra Tech, the architects at Isherwood and Ellis, M&E Beattie Flanaghan, Civil and Structural Design ID , and the Contractor team at Glasgiven Contracts,” said Conor McGeown, project manager at Tetra Tech.
“Supporting the integrated sector remains a key area of development in Northern Ireland and we are proud to have supported the school’s important work in delivering education in that space.”