North Kildare Educate Together are proud to announce the awarding of their second architectural award from the RIAI for their school building.
The school first opened its doors in 1994 and was housed in portacabins for the best part of a decade on a site at Ballymakealy Lower. Last summer, after nearly a ten year campaign, teachers, principal, students and parents celebrated their move into a state of the art school building in North Kildare. Over the years it has grown to accommodate two hundred and fifty children and eighteen staff and is now set on the flat landscape of Co. Kildare in an isolated location away from the hustle and traffic of Celbridge town.
The building was designed by Grafton Architects but strongly reflects the desire and input from the school community for high quality design with the emphasis on space, light and welcoming surroundings. The building has a unique combination of indoor and outdoor teaching spaces. The circulation spaces overlook a central courtyard garden and the theme of bringing the outdoors in continues into the classroom where each class enjoys its own individual garden. Natural materials such as copper, red brick, iroko timber and glass are used to help the school blend into the surroundings.
The integration of the children with autism is fundamental to the ethos of the school. Each special needs classrooms has a den as well as special study carrels, a dedicated play corner and a changing area.
In our school child centeredness is one of the tenets of the school ethos. This has been reflected in the classroom layout. An integral part of the building design has been the integration of the country’s first purpose built unit for children with autism. This required research into the very specific needs of these children and once again a child centred approach was taken by the needs of. This unit is now a prototype for future units in the country. School principal, Rita Galvin.
Each of the class rooms is laid out in a studio/workshop/classroom style with its own versatile alcove. This is used as a quiet reading area or stage for performance. The plan of the 10 classroom lay out is anchored by one main courtyard which acts as a sensory garden at the heart of the school. Each classroom also has it’s own private courtyard looking out over the Dublin Mountains. The exterior of the new building is topped by a distinctive copper roof, which will gradually turn green over the next few years. The staff and parents’ car parks and the bus turning circle are a far cry from the muddy track which led up to the old building.
Rita Galvin, spoke of her satisfaction that the long struggle to get a proper building and emphasised the huge voluntary effort from the community.
This new building stands as a testament both to the vision of the people who founded the school all those years ago and to the dedication and hard work that has been put in by many, many people since then. Tribute must be paid to those who have given their time and skills over the years to work on school committees, some of whom had seen their children pass through their entire primary education without such basics as a P.E. hall.
North Kildare Educate Together School is multi-denominational, co-educational, child centered, and democratically run through the elected Executive (Patron Body) and Board of Management.