Isle of Man Premier Construction

Improving Ballakermeen School

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Written by Roma Publications

A project to extend the dining room and improve the post-16 facilities at Ballakermeen School, located in Douglas on the Isle of Man, is progressing well and is set to reach completion by October 2014.

The development is just one of many ongoing projects at the school which are set to address the building’s shortcomings and deal with any capacity issues.

Premier Construction caught up with Charlie Park, Architect Director at Ellis Brown Architects, who worked as the lead architect on the project to find out more about the development scheme at Ballakermeen School. Charlie said:

This particular project has two phases and arose from the assessment we did a few years ago at the school about its shortcomings. From that assessment sprang this particular project which is the extension of the dining room and post 16 facilities. At the moment we are hoping to finish the first phase; the post 16 facilities, by the start of September this year and the second phase; the extension of the dining room is set for October 2014.

The project officially began on site in the summer of 2013 and Tooms Brothers, the main contractor, spent the summer holiday period separating the working area of the school from the building site. The construction works span three levels and involve linking the existing accommodation to each storey.

On the ground floor there is an existing kitchen which serves an existing dining hall and a further dining facility has been constructed on the other side of the kitchen as an extension area. This kitchen will therefore serve both dining halls.”

Charlie told us that Ellis Brown Architects along with Ballakermeen School and the construction team carefully planned out the works programme prior to starting. They ensured that the planned schedule of works did not hinder the school from operating as normal, and also ensured that the construction site is always kept separate from the school so there was no interference. The team set a number of target dates when each aspect of work had to be completed by in order to ensure the day to day running of the school was not interrupted.

In order to construct the post-16 facilities a separate structure is being erected on the side of the existing building, and there are links into each floor level. In order to create a separate working area that did not interrupt the daily functioning of the school the construction team blanked off all the windows, doors and the separations on the elevation in order to establish the required working area.

During each school holiday period the construction team enter the school property and undertake enabling work which helps wire the new structure into the existing facilities. Therefore every stage of the development is carried out in line with a pre-planned programme.

John Ashton Roofing has been heavily involved in the extension project and undertook the roof works including installing the tiling, fibreglass, ridging and legwork. Red Scaffolding Ltd were also involved in the main scheme of works at Ballakermeen School and provided all access requirements for the project including scaffolding, external locks and internal locks for the new build.

RED Scaffolding offers an extensive service to all domestic, commercial and industrial customers. The firm provides numerous services including Independent Scaffolding, Tied Putlog Scaffolding, Supporting Scaffolding, Birdcage Scaffolding, Safety Netting, Debris Netting, Roofing and Floor Edge Protection, Temporary Roofs, Gantries and Raking Shores.

There have been a variety of other ongoing projects underway at the school over the last few years and Ellis Brown Architects have played a central role in the works. These projects include the reconfiguration of the school’s front entrance with the installation of a ramped approach and better step arrangements to the existing entrance hall. The team have also been part of the construction of a new fiction library, within an existing quadrangle of the site, which replaced their existing fiction library and freed up space for later use.

Another future project which will form another part of the Ballakermeen School transformation project involves the refurbishment and reconfiguration of a number of classrooms which require relocation within the school, as well as a number of associated refurbishment works. These works will begin in the summer holidays in 2014.

As of yet there is not an official end date to the overall scheme of works as the school intend to continue the schedule of development as further finances become available. Charlie said that the team are now revisiting the previously developed areas in a bid to ensure that all of the existing faculties have all of their facilities grouped together. Therefore it is a process of gradually trying to re-establish each department.

Premier Construction asked Charlie Park why it was important for Ellis brown Architects to be involved in the project:

As we do all our work on the Isle of Man we have an impact on the community and we are always keen to help local people through our work. We are very involved in our local environment, more so than if we were a large practice in the UK, as the island is a fairly close knit community. Everyone that works on the island does their bit and we also try and do our best for the island.”

Ellis Brown is an experienced practice offering a range of services for every client; these include conducting feasibility studies, master planning, project design, interior design and project management. The firm work together with other professional services including quantity surveyors, structural engineers and mechanical and electrical engineers in order to provide the best service for their clients.

Ellis Brown have established an expansive portfolio since their inception including the development of developed modern and traditional designs for new buildings, in addition to creating schemes for existing property requiring specialist renovation in keeping with the requirements of a listed or historic building and local planning legislation.

Wilson & Collins Ltd

Wilson & Collins Ltd specialise in structural steelwork fabrication and erection and have been in operation for over 40 years. They have an impressive portfolio of previous projects and have worked alongside a variety of reputable Isle of Mann contractors.

Previous projects with Tooms Contracts include the construction of The Isle of Man College as well as Ballakermeen School. The firm have also worked with Auldyn Construction Ltd constructing a new neo-natal unit at the Isle of Man Hospital. They have also worked alongside JCK Ltd undertaking various industrial unit projects.

Premier Construction caught up with Gary Flowers, the firms Operations Manager, to find out about their specific involvement in Ballakermeen School. He said:

We fabricated the buildings structural steelwork in our factory in Balthane and erected the frame of the building with our 24 foot mobile crane the smaller crane was needed to access the compact site conditions. Once the steel frame was erected we also supplied and fitted the metal floor decking prior to Tooms poring the concrete floors slabs.

We were on site on time and worked closely with John Corteen from Tooms for about six weeks to have the frame work erected on time. We really like working with Tooms Contracts, who have a very positive attitude and a ‘can do approach’, as main contractor they are defiantly going places. As a Manx firm through and through it is also good to be involved with Isle of Man Government projects as we pride ourselves on keeping things MANX, we need to contribute to protecting our economy and in turn our way of life.”

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