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Primary School in Rush, County Dublin

Part 1 Project 2012
John Nolan
University College Dublin, Ireland
Primary School in Rush, County Dublin, Ireland

“As well as supporting the pedagogy of both the formal and the hidden curriculum, the design of a school has to support its function as a community resource and the school’s symbolic value…”
Sunand Prasad

Rush, a coastal town on the edge of the Irish sea; a place driven by its relationship with the sea and the land as evidenced by its thriving fishing and horticultural industries.

The site stands as a guardian between the community and the sea. It marks the end of the main street and the beginning of the town’s seascape.

The design of a primary school for Rush represents an opportunity to create spaces to allow a variety of individual and communal activities to flourish and to help foster growth of all the members of its community, young and old.

The design incorporates the adjoining public park, wrapping it around the school buildings, allowing the community to surround the school on all sides.

A communal activity tower acts as the gatekeeper and gatherer, a beacon to collective learning. The tower, clad in marine plywood, drives the social activities of the school and community day and night. Its stature and transparency help express to the community its daily and nightly activities.

A sea route provides a continuation from the town’s main street allowing access to the tower, school, public buildings and sea square.

The classrooms enclose three courtyards, organised according to the lifecycle of the children. The nursery school is enclosed; nurturing its younger inhabitant while the upper school opens up to the sea, allowing for more freedom and a stronger relationship with the world outside.

All the classrooms open up directly to the gardens. A bench/storage unit provides the threshold between the formality of the classroom and the openness. Throughout the school, large glazed units provide for continual visual connections within the school as well as with the community beyond.

The school and its associated buildings strive to provide for a place of learning that occupies a territory somewhat between a home and the world…a place for the community.

John Nolan


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