Drumahoe Primary School is celebrating a Northern Ireland first with the opening of a trend-setting log cabin schoolhouse.
The eco-friendly timber cabin is the first school building of its kind in the UK to be granted full building control and planning approval.
Drumahoe PS teamed up with local company Beaver Log Cabins to design and develop the “prototype school building.
The new school house is a bespoke design, three room log cabin with the capacity to house 24 children. The keys to the energy-efficient school building were handed over to principal Terry McMaster last Friday after a total build-time of just over two weeks.
The principal said the new log cabin schoolhouse solved a problematic capacity issue at a fraction of the cost and time required to construct a new modular building.
He explained that the school’s Board of Governors “grasped the nettle” and began exploring the possibility of timber cabin accommodation when their after-school club was effectively rendered homeless.
“Our popular breakfast and after school clubs were previously housed in a classroom but our pupil numbers increased so much that we needed the space for teaching,” he said. “As a Board of Governors, we looked at the possibilities available within our budget. We were very happy with the quality of smaller projects carried out by Beaver Log Cabins.
“We sought advice from the Education Authority and they were happy as long as we could achieve approval from the Planning Service and Building Control authorities. We did and here we are.”
Affordable running costs are also important features of the cabin.
“Energy efficiency is vital for us so there is a big green element to it with solar panels, air to water heat pump and extra insulation,” said Mr. McMaster.
The Drumahoe PS principal is inviting other principals to come and see what all the fuss is about. “As a Northern Ireland first, it is effectively a show house for us and Beaver Log Cabins. If other schools, principals or organisations want to come along and have a look at the standard of the workmanship, we’re more than happy to accommodate them.”
Trevor Watson, from Beaver Log Cabins NI, said the Drumahoe PS schoolhouse was the first of many such projects for his company.
He added: “We are already working on similar large log cabin projects for other schools and publicly-funded bodies. More and more people are becoming aware of the cost savings to be made in erecting high quality log cabins for a range of uses.”