Minister McIlveen Officially Opens the School House, Methodist College

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Hamilton Architects are looking forward with excitement to the finals of the RICS UK Awards in October, after winning two regional finalist titles out of six categories.

Our work on the School House, Methodist College, Belfast, is vying for top honours in the Heritage category, while Erne Campus, South West College, Enniskillen, is a finalist in the Public Sector category.

It was a special moment for Scott Naismith, the outgoing principal of Methodist College, when Education Minister Michelle McIlveen, a former pupil, performed the official opening of the School House at the end of the old school year.

“The architects came in and transformed the building,” said Mr Naismith. “The addition of two new, two-storey blocks at the back of the building, complete with solar panels on the roof, has given us fantastic new accommodation for our English and Maths Departments and Psychology Department as well.

“The renovation of the original wings now accommodates the RE Department and the old Chapel is now a fantastic Drama Studio.”

The School House offers an exemplar of the sympathetic blending of traditional Victorian architecture and modern learning spaces and Mr Naismith said it had given staff and pupils a tremendous boost after Covid.

“The transformation of these spaces … into the inspiring places of learning they are is breathtaking and it really does show what can be achieved when architects, builders and a school works collectively to deliver a clear vision.”

In their accolade to Methodist College at the NI regional final, the RICS judges said: “The School House is an excellent example of how thoughtful design and excellence of service has reimagined one of Belfast’s most iconic buildings to make it fit for 21st century educational requirements.

“Extension, sustainable reuse, and recycling of the building fabric, together with conservation of original features, celebrates the well-loved ‘face’ of the school while respecting the historic integrity of the Queen’s Conservation Area. It is now fit for purpose for the education of whole new generations of students.”