School design standards

Design standards for the the planning and design of school buildings.

Building handbook

The School Building Handbooks (Nursery, Primary and Secondary) provide advice and guidance on the planning and design of new school buildings and the standard to which they should conform.

They deal with the site, the building, circulation space and playing facilities – all matters which influence the learning environment within which the curriculum is delivered.

When designing new school accommodation, the Building Handbook should be used in conjunction with an approved Schedule of Accommodation provided by the Department of Education.

Basic Underlying Target Costs

In addition to adherence to the School Building Handbooks and the approved Schedule of Accommodation provided by the Department of Education, when designing new school accommodation, the Integrated Consultant/Design/Supply Team should aim to ensure that wherever possible, costs should not exceed the basic target costs set out in the link below:   

Target Costs as of April 2016

ICT Submissions Guidance

In addition, technical advisors to the Department have produced a booklet which provides additional guidance for Integrated Consultant Teams (ICTs) who are planning and designing new school buildings.  These documents set out the key deliverables that must be submitted to the Department to enable consideration and approval where appropriate of each of the key RIBA Stages of Work as a project progresses.  

There are two booklets available, one for projects which are procured through the ‘traditional’ approach and one for projects which are procured through the ‘Design and Build / Develop and Construct’ contractual approach which is now the standard approach to all new construction projects under the Executive’s procurement policy.

Energy efficiency

The guide is aimed at Project Managers, Architects, Service Engineers and the other members of the team involved in the design and planning of educational building projects.

Its purpose is to set the standards and outline good practice on services for energy conservation and to highlight the main issues to be considered by the design team from the pre-planning stage of a project.

(This document is currently under review)

Acoustic design of schools

This document gives designers of major school schemes general advice on acoustic design and confirms the requirement to comply with the Department for Education and Skills, “Building Bulletin 93 - Acoustic Design of Schools - a design guide”.  

This note is applicable to major capital school schemes announced since March 2006.

Learning support centres

Learning support centres in post primary schools

This document gives designers of major post-primary school schemes general advice on the schedule of accommodation for learning support accommodation and its provision.

A guide for principals

Guidance for Principals in managing schools during new build projects.

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