The recent completion of the brand new £3.85 million Whitehouse Primary School and Nursery unit building in Doagh Road, Whitehouse Newtonabbey, Co Antrim, was greeted with delight by parents, teachers and children alike.
The new school replaces an old primary school which occupied the site before being destroyed by a fire in 2009.
Following the fire, staff and pupils at the school had to move into a wing of the nearby secondary school, which was built for older pupils. Eventually, after a campaign by parents and teachers, the Department of Education released money for a new building.
Initial construction works included demolition of the remains of the old school building and clearance of the sloping site.
The new single storey building incorporates a 2535m2 primary school and a 288m2 nursery unit, and features external elevations primarily in red Tyrone brick with contrasting banding, with a ‘K-Rend’ white finish incorporating curtain walling elements to the main hall section.
Windows are aluminium framed.
Internally the building is of block cavity wall construction with a 215 mm inner leaf, with isolated supporting steel elements and a steel frame system to the main hall.
The layout of the building is divided into three main accommodation blocks connected by a link corridor and a covered walkway. The building incorporates 14. classrooms, each with toilet accommodation and storage facilities, with classrooms divided into groups, each of which shares a central internal resource areas lit by roof lights and corner windows to classrooms. Eco friendly features of the building include a rainwater harvesting system and heat pumps.
Distinctive design features include a dramatic curved aluminium standing seam roof over the main hall, with this curve also reflected internally within the acoustic ceiling. The remainder of the roof is primarily pitched and tiled. Rooflights are used extensively throughout to flood the school with natural daylight. The building also features a zinc entrance canopy linking the hall with the main body of school building.
Works commenced in June 2010 and were completed in August 2011.
Louise Weir who has taught at the school for 17 years said: “This is amazing for us and the children to be able to have this huge building, their own playgrounds, their own spaces and everything catered for their own needs.”
P7 pupil Ethan Dawson added: “It’s good because a few years ago we didn’t know if we were going to have a school to go into. When I came in here it just seemed so big compared to the other school.”