The Lower Ormeau Road Community in Belfast is tucked into nine parallel streets that stretch as fingers from the arterial road to the River Lagan. A tight triangle of streets that used bound the adjacent railway line was demolished, perhaps, twenty-five years ago and a sheltered housing scheme built leaving a piece of land that has lain empty ever since. As in other parts of the city the thriving Irish Language Community bought the derelict land and have a nursery and small primary school in the ubiquitous prefabricated classrooms.
The Client, for this project, wanted a new two classroom nursery school and '... whatever community space could be built for the budget ...' on the rear corner of the site close to the railway line an din the shadow of the old Belfast Gasworks 'Klondyke Hall'. This was the first new building built within the neighbourhood area for twenty-five years.
The design approach was to build a compact volume that would be robust enough to sit across the railway tracks from the huge brick hall and be spatially diverse internally to offer a learning environment for small children and provide a flexible facility for the community.
The internal planning on both floors is focused around a two storey winter garden and a two storey entrance hall. The classrooms and their ancillary spaces are located at either end of the building separated by the winter garden which is also overlooked by the first floor community room.