Tor Bank School, Belfast

Doran Consulting provided civil & structural engineering design services, as part of a Design & Build contract, in relation to the provision of this new school in Belfast which provides educational services for 160+ pupils with a range of complex learning preferences and varying degrees of impairment to physical mobility.

The new school was designed utilising single storey accommodation throughout, with an overall floor area of approximately 60,000ft2. It was designed primarily using load bearing masonry construction, supporting a structural steel duo-pitch roof structure.

The roof structure features curved structural steelwork northlights over the internal corridors to maximise natural light in these areas and incorporates eaves overhangs, exposed structural steel canopies and feature rooflights. These elements, when coupled with the geometry of the building footprint, posed a significant design challenge. A reinforced concrete ring beam was used at eaves level to provide continuity between the roof structure and masonry walling below. This ring beam also provides stability to the structure and allows the use of long span ‘ribbon’ windows to maximise daylight in the rooms. A double height rigid structural steel portal framed sports hall and plant area were also designed.

The school was constructed on land previously used as playing fields, which comprised significant depths of variable made ground. Ground improvement techniques were adopted in the earthworks package to create a level platform, capable of sustaining building foundations loads, eliminating the need for deep foundations or trench fill and permitting the use of a cost-saving ground-bearing reinforced concrete floor slab throughout.

Extensive civil engineering works were also required including the design of new storm and foul drainage systems, the storm system incorporating a dedicated rainwater harvesting system and storm attenuation measures to limit discharge to adjacent sewers and watercourses; the design of new roads and parking areas, including widening to the Dunlady Road to create a new right turning lane; and sports and play facilities which utilised specialised soft play surfaces for external play areas and sports pitches.

The school opened ahead of programme & within budget.