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BDP completes £10.8m science block for Tonbridge School

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The Barton Science Centre, a 5,125m² addition to the independent boarding and day school for boys in Tonbridge, Kent, combines teaching and technology facilities across three storeys

The school’s original science building dates from 1887 and the project was commissioned to accommodate an increase in student numbers and to provide for changing teaching methods. 

The design of the exterior aims to complement the patchwork of architectural styles on the school campus. Its façades are clad with a regular series of anodised aluminium fins, refelecting the verticality of the neighbouring Neo-Gothic main school building and Grade II-listed chapel. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide natural daylight into the centre, while establishing visual connections with the rest of the school estate.  

bdp barton science centre 7948 nick caville

Internally, communal forums and a central three-storey atrium connect the physics, biology and chemistry departments of the existing building. Additional teaching and laboratory spaces extend to the north. The flexible forum floors will host a wide range of activities and are surrounded by labs, prep rooms, group study areas and staff spaces.

In addition to the new teaching facilities, the school intends the centre to serve the wider public with an outreach programme for local schools, public lectures and teacher training events.

Exploded axonometric

Architect’s view

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.

This project 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.

Daniel Walder, associate architect, BDP

Project data

Start on site June 2017
Completion date December 2018
Gross internal area 3500m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 5,125m² 
Form of contract Traditional (JCT SBC2016 with Quantities)
Construction cost £10.8m
Construction cost per m² £2,107
Architect BDP
Client Tonbridge School
Structural engineer CTP Consulting Engineers
M&E consultant BDP
QS Synergy LLP
Lighting design BDP
Interior design BDP
Artist Briony Marshall
Landscape consultant BDP
Acoustic consultant BDP
Project manager Synergy
CDM co-ordinator BDP
Approved building inspector JM Partnership
Main contractor Baxall Construction
CAD software used Revit
Annual CO2 emissions 30.2 Kg/m²

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Nice but I am surprised by the high carbon cost of this building at 30 kgCO2/m2/yr – is this due to an existing inefficient heating system being extended? If I understand correctly the SAP Environmental Impact rating (EIR) on the building’s EPC would be registered as an F in this instance, with the highest rating being an A.....

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