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Designing Educational Spaces

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Education and Design

According to the World Health Organisation ( 2021) one in 160 children worldwide has a diagnosis of ASD.

In Ireland, a recent study by the Department of Health (2018) concluded that ‘ there is a robust case for adopting an estimated prevalence of 1-1.5% of the population’. We know however that the term neurodiverse encompasses a wide range of other neurological or developmental conditions such as ADHD or learning disabilities.

A review of the Education Act in 2015 by the National Council for Special Education of the provisions for children with ASD emphasised the need for a Universal Design for Learning approach. To facilitate both neurotypical and neurodiverse needs schools and learning environments must bridge the gap between spatial needs and behavioural science to ensure a safe and proactive space that promotes well-being for both child and teaching staff.

Our Approach

A feasibility or exploratory session is the first way to understand a school or learning environment.

It begins with a visit to discuss the main problems encountered on a daily basis. Need and wants are prioritised across spatial, behavioural, technical, financial and regulatory. Karen believes that before an architect or engineer is retained it is important to assess the practical needs and wants by completing a full sensory audit using a Scorecard Model and aligning to the specific needs and wants.

Once the brief is gathered a comprehensive report is presented that offers clarity, direction and peace of mind before any formal appointments are made.

Karen’s work is grounded in both academic research, practical application as a partner in an Accredited RIAI architectural practice and experience as a parent to a neurodiverse teenager. She also specialises in Flow Optimisation and Designing for the Senses and brings a wealth of coaching experience to help clients unwrap problems and find spatial solutions for educational wellbeing and development.

Recent Work

Upon the recommendation of an OT a Feasibility Study was undertaken for the re-development and re-design of the Outdoor Space.

This was for a Special School for mixed 4-18 age groups located in Munster. The school building was in need of upgrading and the outdoor spaces were not fit for purpose due to safety concerns and poor adaptation for students and teachers when on duty.

The study involved a mix of surveys, observation, sketch proposals, spatial surveys and took specific factors into account including user needs, experiential design, technical guidance, maintenance and budgets, understanding the Types of Play, Designing for the Senses and ART. The school was then able to present a robust case to the Board of Management and Department of Education in order to progress the project formally ( May 2023)

The positive effect of Dwellbeing

I engaged the services of Ronan McGee, architect, to design and draw plans for a refurbishment of my house in 2013. I was very happy with his work. He consulted with me prior to drawing and finishing the plans and submitted them for planning permission which was duly granted. He was available and very willing to meet regularly with builders and supervise the work and made sure that it was up to the recommended standard. He was very pleasant and reliable to work with and I recommend him highly.
Therese Moroney, Dublin, Dublin
Karen and Ronan have been fantastic to work with. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for an amazing architect and design team. They have been so patient and understanding to us during the long awaited time of us finally finding our dream location. They have made our dream home come true on paper and listened to everything we wanted and also gave fantastic advice along the way. They’ve been great friends and mentors to us both, with being a young couple starting off and not knowing much about the whole process of starting a home from scratch. We couldn’t highly recommend them enough!
Ronan was exceptionally professional to deal with, there was clear communication from the outset and I knew exactly all the parameters of what was required. The whole process of applying for planning permission was seamless and I trusted Ronan totally to listen to our needs and respond to them. I would have no hesitation in recommending Ronan to anyone looking for a good architect.
Karina Howley, Dunboyne, Meath
Very prompt reply and competitive pricing and lovely to deal with. Happy to recommend.
Gill Hyland, Crumlin , Dublin 12
A pleasure to liaise with this practice. Would recommend without hesitation
Brendan Keegan, Finglas, Dublin 11
Pleasure to work with. No detail too small. Got us exactly what we wanted and more. Would highly recommend Ronan and Karen. Professional and friendly service. Quality results.
Michelle Fisher, Citywest, Dublin 24
We were very pleased with Ronan McGee.
Fonsie McNamara, Churchtown, Dublin 14
We would like to thank Ronan on the incredible job he has done on our two room extension to the house, from the word go he was sympathetic to our family needs as we had to remain living in the house whilst the work was carried out, his professional design and standard of building was very cleverly executed, he built up a fantastic relationship with ourselves and the builder alike and it was a great feeling that we were all working together to achieve the same goal, thanks a mill Ronan.
Geraldine McGarrity, Crumlin, Dublin 12
I would highly recommend the service provided by Karen and Ronan. Initially I discussed our needs with Karen who was very open about pricing and extremely helpful in explaining what steps we needed to take. She took the time to listen and understand what our needs were and that was extremely important to us. Ronan called to look at the project and was very patient helpful and professional. He provided us with multiple options and worked with us until we were 100% happy with the end result.
Emma Murphy, Athy, Kildare
I was very happy with Ronan’s architectural services which covered all phases of my extension and renovation work, including design, tendering and construction. Ronan was particularly helpful at the design stage, providing good ideas and challenging some of mine. It was also great to have detailed tender documents, and assistance in choosing the right builder.
Karen Keeley, Carpenterstown, Dublin 15
Quick response. I was able to describe what I wanted via telephone and set up an appointment within a week or so. Arranged consultation was exactly as we had hoped it would be, our ideas taken I to consideration in conjunction with their expertise. They are very professional and friendly.
Mary Adams , Tullow, Carlow
Karen called us very quickly following me posting the ad. This set the tone for all our interactions since whereby they had responded quickly and efficiently to all of our queries. Ronan called to the house and immediately seemed to understand what we had in mind for our extension. He followed up with a fee quote very quickly even though it was Easter weekend (which we found very reasonable). We look forward to working with Ronan during the course of our build.
Olive Corbett, Ranelagh, Dublin 6
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