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St Mary’s Primary School, Banbridge


This new primary school was designed with 14 regular classrooms, special needs facilities, kitchen/dining provision, a multi-use hall, meeting/group rooms, library, offices, toilets, etc. A new nursery school was designed and constructed on the site as part of the contract.

The site presented three major challenges: it is accessed through a residential area; the land slopes steeply; and rock sits close to the surface. By carrying out value engineering exercises, we designed dry-stack masonry retaining walls to sit 3m high and up to 100m long, with geogrid tails locking into granular backfill. These negated the slow, costly excavation of rock for a level playground/carpark terrace at one side, and support an embanked road at a boundary that falls away sharply.

Sitting on pad and strip foundations, the 2-storey structure is a steel frame with cold-formed purlins, insulated slate roof and blockwork infill. Retaining walls facing classrooms are tanked in anticipation of future infill extensions to the building. The main entrance has pre-cast concrete steps and a steel-framed link bridge giving pedestrian access to an exterior amphitheatre and upper storey interior. Looking across lower land, are external windows articulating curved, stone cladding that is tied back to blockwork on a support angle; a 2-storey atrium with glazed face; and roof lights that brighten social spaces and classrooms.

With the school having a hygiene room and bases for children with ASD and MLD, a lift complements pre-cast concrete stairs to ensure that the entire scheme is a DDA-compliant facility for all pupils.

Drainage was tied into the existing system following repairs to a collapsed storm sewer discovered by the contractor, and the inclusion of petrol interceptors where runoff crosses car parking. A grasscrete link gives access to additional car parking on hard standing play areas for public events.

Prior to construction, the school population was decanted to St Patrick’s HS. T&B contributed design for contingency toilets, timber walkways to link “mobiles” and partitions from the host school. Independent access was negotiated via the neighbouring GAC.

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