Scottish firm's design chosen for 1,000-pupil Tallaght school
A FIRM of Scottish architects has picked up the top prize in a competition for the design of a new 1,000-student post-primary school in Dublin, beating some of Ireland’s leading architects.
The contest, organised by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, attracted the highest number of entries for a design competition here, with 154 submissions – including 43 international entries from 14 countries.
The winning scheme by Ayr-based ARPL Architects is to be developed on a site owned by the Department of Education in Kingswood, Tallaght.
The Scottish firm will manage its construction with a view to the school opening in late August 2017.
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said the wide interest in the competition “is a reflection of the importance of quality design of schools”. But the high number of entries also reflects the desperate need of Irish architects for new work to keep going.
Joint second place was shared by Dublin-based de Blacam and Meagher Architects and the Coady Partnership.
It is expected that they will be commissioned to design other schools for sites owned by the department as funding becomes available.
Others shortlisted to take part in the second – and final – stage of the competition were all Dublin-based: Grafton Architects, Michael Kelly Architect and BDP.
Those commended in the first stage were de Paor Architects, Gilroy McMahon and KMD.
Congratulating ARPL Architects on their “innovative design”, Mr Quinn said that, as a one-time practising architect himself, he had instigated the latest competition because he “wanted to bring fresh thinking and creativity to the design of our schools”.
While children in Tallaght “can look forward to a school space that truly reflects the needs of the 21st-century student”, he said the competition also “confirms my department’s commitment to quality environments in schools for all our children.
“It is vital that we consider new approaches to the design of new second-level schools given the changes which are under way both in terms of curriculum and how our students are taught and the number of new schools to be built over the next 15 years.”
But two students entering final year at the University of Limerick’s school of architecture – Jenny Kingston and Sinéad Long – have argued that the department’s briefs for school design are “far too prescriptive”, leaving little room for creativity.
Ms Kingston said “everything” was laid down, including the size of classrooms, staffrooms, science labs, computer rooms and even the width of corridors. This was “really holding back progressive teachers and school principals”, she added.
“We were arguing that the whole curriculum and methods of learning have changed, but the prescriptive brief hasn’t moved on at all. As we see it, this needs to be overhauled to allow for information technology and expansion of the curriculum.”
The two students are compiling a report on the issue of school design and hope to present their conclusions to the Minister in September, in advance of a “colloquium” on post-primary school design, which the department will hold in late November.
The Kingswood competition jury was chaired by South Dublin County Council architect Eddie Conroy and included two representatives of the department – technical manager Tony Sheppard, who is also an architect, and senior architect Eamonn Greville.