Designing for science

Dulwich Prep London’s new science and technology facilities have been designed using a ‘two-in-one’ concept

Founded in 1885, Dulwich Prep London is the largest boys’ preparatory school in the country, with more than 800 students between the ages of 3 and 13. As part of plans to improve the science and technology facilities available to its students, the school wanted to create a new-build extension to sit between two existing historic buildings.

To complement the glass-fronted building created by architects Lee Evans Partnership and building contractors Quinn London, education interiors company Innova Design Solutions were asked to design contemporary, high-quality science laboratories and food and design technology rooms and support facilities which would echo the school’s own philosophy.

Tasked with creating three dedicated science labs, a science prep room, an office and a chemical store, Innova followed the school’s brief for a contemporary, light and spacious feel combined with cutting-edge design by adapting its ‘hot corners’ concept to the main lab classrooms.

Providing practical and theory spaces on the same workbench, ‘hot corners’ offered Dulwich Prep London a flexible layout suited to modern, collaborative teaching methods. With services located on the front face of the units, the design ensures students have sufficient room for both practical and theory and are able to switch quickly between the two.

This ‘two-in-one’ design also reduces spatial restrictions in science labs, helping to improve circulation and reduce clutter. To help Dulwich further maximise the space available in each lab, both perimeter benching and the centre-floor workbenches were fitted with storage, providing students with access to equipment when performing science experiments.

To help improve students’ focus, Innova positioned the teacher on the longest wall of the classroom. With the benching designed so all the students face the front, the layout directs attention to the teacher wall and, by shortening the lines of communication, minimises the risk of a drop-off in sound from teacher to student.

In the science prep room, chemical store and office, it was essential for the design to maximise safe, robust storage and provide staff with desk space for marking and lesson preparation.

To increase storage in the prep room whilst maintaining room on work surfaces for practical lessons to be set up a rolling storage system was installed, offering technicians the capacity to store their large quantity of gratnell trays as well as other lab equipment. A separate chemical store room was fitted with Spur shelving racks with Trespa compact grade shelves with a front edge to prevent spills and breaks. Fitting knee spaces and dedicated drawer packs beneath perimeter benching created desk space in the main office for completing written work.

The design and technology space required a number of flexible workbenches in the centre of the room together with fixed positions for woodworking machinery. Again the rooms were designed to accommodate both practical and theory work, ensuring sufficient circulatory space to meet health and safety standards.

The high-end, modern, yet timeless feel Dulwich wanted to convey in its new science department was produced by combining light blue and metallic tones with clean white walls and surfaces. High-quality, easy-to-maintain materials such as Velstone were chosen to guarantee the longevity and good looks of the labs throughout their lifespan, with the aim of creating an inspiring and innovative learning environment to match the ambition of Dulwich and its students.

Innova Design Solutions W: www.innova-solutions.co.uk    

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