100 new school buildings Over the next five years, Minister Quinn

Minister of Education and Skills, attended the second and final day of the 21st Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) annual conference at the RDS, Dublin.

The theme of this year’s two-day conference is Architecture Ethical Practise: The Role of the Architect in a Constantly Changing World. Keynote speakers include the Minister for Education and Skills, Mr Ruairi Quinn TD, internationally renowned architect Sir David Chipperfield as well as a range of Irish and international commentators such as architectural critic Peter Buchanan, Laura Lee, Professor of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University and economists Dr Kieran Allen and Constantin Gurdgiev amongst others.

Speaking at the conference today, Minister Quinn said: “Our education system is facing a massive rise in the number of children who all will need a school place. This presents challenges for the Department. Over the next five years, we will be building more than 100 new school buildings.  As an architect,” he continued, “I see this as a real opportunity to seek innovation in the design of these new schools. This is why in December 2011, I announced details of a Post Primary School Design Competition.  I am delighted that this competition generated incredible levels of interest. It attracted the highest ever number of entries for a design competition in Ireland with 154 submissions. Included in this were 43 international entries from 14 countries.

“This was not just an ideas competition but instead was focused on delivering real innovative school designs that could be built,” he continued. “In the current economic climate coupled with the challenge of additional school places, it would be deceptive to raise expectations in seeking just a once-off flagship project. Instead, the winning schemes rose to the challenge of what can be realistically achieved. The success of this competition has proven that the competition process is a valid alternative method of procurement of design teams.

“The children of Kingswood in West Dublin can now look forward to a school space which truly reflects the needs of the 21st century student,” said the Minister who congratulated the competition winner ARPL Architects from Ayr in Scotland describing the winning project as “deceptively simple, modest and restrained”. He said: “It is also an elegant refined solution that relates well to its location and external spaces. Informal learning is encouraged in the design of pupil social spaces. My Department is in the process of appointing the winning Design Team so that their vision can be realised.”

The winning entries were exhibited at the RIAI Conference.  A  Colloquium on Post-Primary School Design, with presentations by the winners and an exhibition of all entries, is also scheduled to take place in late November 2012.