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Science Centre opens at Tonbridge School

The new science centre at Tonbridge School was officially opened on 23rd March by NASA astronauts Dr Michael Foale and Dr Steve Swanson. A plaque for Barton Science Centre was unveiled and guided tours were given at the event which was attended by BDP chair Chris Harding.

The original science building dates from 1887 and is believed to be the first purpose-built science facility in a British school. After 130 years student numbers have increased, teaching and learning methods have changed and more breakthroughs in science and technology have been made necessitating an ambitious redevelopment.

The centre's design builds on the school’s rich layers of history and tradition while looking to the future to inspire students to develop a career in science.

Our design makes an impactful intervention in the original building and extends it to the north to provide additional teaching space, while laboratories and demonstration space in the existing building have been fully refurbished. At the heart of the new design is a shared forum which links the physics, biology and chemistry departments through a three storey atrium. This open and flexible area hosts a wide range of events and activities and is wrapped by a series of labs, prep rooms, group study spaces and staff spaces.

The new building revolutionises the way science is taught at the school and aims to fire the imagination of students by offering a place to meet and share ideas, spaces for learning outside the classroom and areas that promote cross-curricular collaboration.

The new centre also includes an interactive periodic table, a TV wall, its own bee hive, a roof garden, a greenhouse and a library. Its design is a teaching tool for science by putting the inner workings of the building, such as the structure and mechanical services, on display.

BDP was architect, building services engineer, interior and lighting designer, and acoustic consultant for the £10.8m project.