Recently, Stepaside ETSS was visited by renowned architect, Bill Kavanagh, who presented a very informative talk about building schools. Bill is a Senior Technical Officer for the Department of Education. His job is to detail the shapes and builds for different schools nationwide and detail the designs for the builders.
Upon his arrival, he was greeted by student representatives, Luca and Shannon. Barbara, our school Principal, attended the meeting. She was accompanied by Technology teacher, Feargal, and the students of 2nd year Technology. The 2nd year Technology class were very excited to meet Bill Kavanagh and participate in his presentation on building skills.
The students interaction began with Siddharth, who explained what we had done so far in our technology class. We explained how many classrooms we estimated we will need in our 1000 student school. After considering this question closely the technology students showed a diagram of the Music Room, Swimming Pool, Science Room, Sports Hall, Home Economics Room, Science Room and many other rooms which we had designed. We also showed a video that Kyle had built on Minecraft of the P.E. hall for our new school.
Luca then explained his Excel Sheet of the new school which detailed the rooms which we require such as Administrators offices, General Classrooms, the need for windows in the middle of the school, lockers, toilets, the common area, a utility room, a maintenance room, a garden and, to help make our school wheelchair accessible, a lift.
Bill Kavanagh then explained how he decides where to positions the classrooms depending where the sun rises and always tries to maximise natural light and minimise electricity costs.
The students then asked Bill if he was only involved in construction in Dublin. He told us that he was involved in constructions in many different counties such as Donegal, Leitrim, Galway, Limerick, Cork and Wexford.
Bill told us how there has been an increase in building contracts recently. He told us that there are currently 3,900 national schools and the rest are primary schools. He told us that every year his Department has a budget of €650 million.
According to Mr. Kavanagh our school, which holds 1000 students, would need only 2 floors and an estimated 27 general classrooms. Stepaside Educate Together National School, the school beside us which is currently being built will cost in the region of €10 million.
Typically, Bill is given school plans anywhere from 18 months to 2 years in advance of building.
The students then asked Bill what was the biggest school that he has planned. He told us one of the biggest schools that he has planned was built in Gorey and accommodates over 1000 students. It takes about 2 years to start and finish building a school and they have to pay a premium to make sure schools are built quickly. A school that is being built outside this schedule, without paying the premium, takes up to 5 years to complete.
I was most interested to discover that the Stepaside Educate Together National School is one Ireland’s rapid builds.
I was even more fascinated when Bill told us how they once found guns and swords on a site. He added that these weapons may have been used for serious reasons in the 17th century!
In urban sites they are able to take x-rays of the grounds to determine whether there is anything of interest buried. These archaeological surveys can take up to four months to complete and are evidence of the importance placed upon preserving our unique cultural heritage.
Always interested in the practical details, the students asked him how much a school that had 1000 students would cost to complete. He said a 1000 student school can cost anywhere from €10milion up to €22milion.