Down High School

Education Authority

Client: Education Authority

Completion: December 2023

Value: £20m

Project Summary

This exciting new build school caters for 950 pupils offering a full range of diverse teaching and sports opportunities. Housed within 12,253m2 of school accommodation on a challenging green field site the exciting and innovative design resolves undulating level changes by clever placement of the building and external sports facilities i.e. full-size Rugby and Hockey pitches. The elevated position of the building affords views over an AONB down to the Mournes. The School’s aspiration is to provide a modern and progressive aesthetic with a strong presence as both pedestrian and vehicular traffic arrive at the new school. The main elevation was very important in terms of scale and materiality as visitors travels along its entire length before arriving at the front entrance. The scheme has been designed with accommodation mainly over two levels with a small section of basement employed to resolve existing topography and reduce the extent of earthworks. The design provides the latest standards for educational, operational & sustainable performance providing a full range of teaching accommodation suitable for a modern 950 pupil co-ed school whilst incorporating an enhanced Multi-purpose Hall & Gym (520m2).


The new school will provide a “school in the community” facility which alongside promoting educational excellence to raise attainment, will provide welcoming and supportive facilities promoting engagement with local groups and clubs. Clearly legible circulation routes defined around 2 central courtyards promotes out-of-hours community use. This includes:

  • Integrated sports facilities with independent access for use by the local community
  • Creating a landmark & stimulating building on the outskirts of Downpatrick
  • Integrating affordable and effective energy efficient strategies. We achieved this by incorporating mixed mode ventilation with heat recovery, the use of renewable energies (solar thermal), high levels of insulation and air tightness, high efficiency gas boilers, low E glazing and low energy lighting systems and water harvesting

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