Harberton SEN School

Belfast Education & Library Board

Client: Belfast Education & Library Board

Completion: July 2006

Value: £4.25m

Project Summary

This highly imaginative 20 classroom SEN School was designed and constructed on land adjacent to the existing school at Harberton Park Belfast. The design includes a multi-purpose hall, outreach teaching facilities, learning support services and a separate dining room with full kitchen facilities. It responded sensitively to DENI guidelines for both the layout and energy efficiency requirements whilst also shaping the most appropriate teaching accommodation for the staff and pupils. In particular the careful introduction of daylight via strategically placed lanterns imbues the interior with a light airy feel whilst avoiding direct sunlight which can distress the children. This tailored approach was extended to the acoustic treatment of classrooms and resource areas were carefully calibrated reverberation times and good acoustic isolation created the optimum teaching environment.

The completed project is conceived around a “street” intersected by stand-alone teaching blocks populated by pupil’s dependant on age and abilities. The spaces between these teaching blocks link to form landscaped courtyards which are used as safe and secure external play areas for the children. In addition, a further garden area within the senior end of the school provides opportunity for learning, at a practical level.


The Harberton SEN school shared its site with 2 other unrelated primary schools forming a “live” 3 school campus. McAdams were also commissioned to replace one of these primary schools (Taughmonagh PS) upon completion of Harberton. This required meticulous master planning and considerable re-shaping of the site. Key features included:

  • Shared educational campus with 2 other schools providing opportunities for combined resources and improved site usage
  • Located on the existing Harberton SEN school site the new facility had excellent and pre-established vehicular and pedestrian links to the local community
  • The school was commended by both the Staff and Belfast Education and Library Board upon completion
  • The former school has been demolished and the site developed into a grass playing field incorporating full size football pitches. These are seen as a wider community resource with supervised and controlled access by local clubs

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