Back to Projects St Andrews College, Dublin

The decision to re-house the school in a new building and on a new site presented an opportunity and an obligation to re-examine its educational programme. The objective was to determine a form and organisation for the school which would accommodate present teaching methods but lean towards, and encourage, the rapid changes taking place in education.

St. Andrews was a boys school in the process of becoming co-educational. The brief required a secondary school for 300 pupils, a Junior School for 100 pupils and residential accommodation for 60 boarders and some staff. All parts of the school are planned together within a single structure to encourage a natural integration between Seniors and Juniors, day pupils and boarders.

To achieve this, two complementary ideas were explored: the first a method of zoning the principal functions within the school, the second a structural system which could provide a very fluid and responsive building form. Zoning was based on two parallel routes either side of a multi-purpose assembly hall at the heart of the building. All secondary day-school teaching is located in clusters on one side of the routes while on the other side are communal uses with residential accommodation above on an upper floor. At one end of the route is the Junior School, at the other, the sports facilities. The assembly halls can be opened along both sides onto the routes to provide a generous open space at the centre of the building.

The structural idea developed into a system of bays which provide both a planning and a structural module. The primary structure consists of pre-cast reinforced concrete columns and beams with plywood cross-beams and roof panels capped with continuous rooflights. The roof structure also forms a distribution system for services which are readily accessible at any point. Teaching takes place in a variety of spaces of different size and character, grouped according to subject around informal houserooms, each adjacent to a small garden court. The aim was to introduce in the teaching area a quality of liveliness and informality, a deliberate rejection of institutional character and a further aid to the integration of activities and age groups.

Photographs by John Donat