Staff and students at Ballyfermot College got a particularly warm welcome back this September – to a newly-refurbished bright, clean and better insulated building. The 1960s college building had been showing its age and causing some serious problems – mainly due to the leaking roof, says Principal Maureen Conway.
“After a bad night’s rain, we really didn’t know where the roof would be leaking, and had to use mops, mats and buckets to cope,” says Principal Maureen Conway.
The leaking roof also brought in dirt and made the building difficult to heat properly. With 1,600 students, this made college life challenging at times.
But that’s all changed now, with the completion of a major refurbishment by Aughey O’Flaherty Architects on behalf of the OPW. Staff and students returned after the summer to light, bright, warm and airy classrooms, and overall a more energy efficient building and more pleasing environment.
The project wasn’t without its challenges, however. “The work had to be carried out in two fast track phases during the 3-month summer breaks of 2010 and 2011, and had to be completed in time for the start of term on each occasion.”
The Aughey O’Flaherty Architects brief was to refurbish and upgrade the roof (3160 sqm) to replace all the roof glazing (900 sqm) to improve the ventilation, renew services installations, re-finish the interior and to remove asbestos elements from the 1960’s building in controlled conditions.
“We had to re-roof the school to get insulation levels in line with current standards while working with the particular design of the school,” says director Max O’Flaherty. The triangular glass-panelled roofs – nicknamed “Toblerones” by staff and students – are a key characteristic of the building, so it was important to retain and enhance this design feature.
Principal Maureen Conway speaks highly of the way in which the work was carried out from the start. “I found Aughey O’Flaherty Architects terrific to work with. They did their homework well in terms of research and preparation and they really listened to what I had to say in terms of what the college needed. They dealt with all the issues and they delivered.”
The result is that classrooms are filled with natural light from the roof, “an even north light to avoid glare,” says Max. “The classrooms are now much easier to heat and to ventilate – which is very important given that there are 1,600 students in the college. The building has also had a general and very necessary facelift.”
“This refurbishment allowed us to demonstrate that we can take on the challenges of a complex project with lots of conflicting demands: creating the changes needed while working within an existing design and enhancing it. We are very thankful to the OPW, in particular to Dermot Reid, for giving us the opportunity!”
The Aughey O’Flaherty Architects team for Ballyfermot College included Joe Mac Mahon, Karen Brownlee, Lora Aughey and Max O’Flaherty.