Castlegardens Park Primary School

Education Authority

Client: Education Authority

Completion: June 2002

Value: £3.2m

Project Summary

This innovative 21 class base Primary School provided a modern and cost effective solution on an extremely challenging site with significant level changes. Due to the complex nature of the site a split 2-storey solution was required and the Planners insisted on a single storey front elevation resulting in a ground and lower ground floor layout. Other innovations included:

  • Building larger than DE allowances due to split level - managed within target costs
  • Major and minor hall juxtaposition together with sliding partition for flexibility
  • Simple structural solution provided more money for increased building area
  • High-level of electronic security.

The scheme followed the DENI guidelines regarding Energy Efficiency in Educational Buildings and underfloor heating was installed to maximise the thermal mass of the masonry construction. The completed scheme was commended by the Education Authority for excellent design and in particular value-for-money as it included additional / increased accommodation with target cost.


Castlegardens Primary School replaced a much loved Victorian school which had become a landmark with the small market town of Newtownards in Co Down, Northern Ireland. As an early example of McAdams work in primary school it established some key design & delivery principles, which remain relevant in our most recent schemes. These include:

  • Optimising the building envelop to provide good daylight and ventilation throughout
  • Champion simple massing and structural solutions focused on best value outcomes. This ensure funds are always directed towards enhancing end-user teaching experience
  • Minimise delivery phasing and construction programme as both cost money and rob the budget whilst providing no tangible benefits at completion
  • Listen and respond creatively to end-user requirements and feedback. This ensures satisfaction with the completed project
  • Use the building were possible to resolve site levels as this optimises site utilisation by providing more level outside play space for children

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