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    Benenden School: Science Centre


    A new science faculty building set in historic parkland.

    Location:Kent, United Kingdom
    Client:Benenden School
    Awards:RIBA Regional Award

    Benenden School has been one of the UK’s leading boarding schools for the best part of a century. Located in a Grade II* listed Victorian mansion set amongst 250 acres of historic parkland classified as AONB, the school’s founding vision prioritises high educational standards as well as the individual well-being and fulfilment of its 520 girls.

    Part of the school’s long term masterplan to upgrade a series of specialist buildings, the new science centre provides state of the art faculty accommodation for the Physics, Chemistry and Biology departments, serving pre-16s as well as increasing numbers of sixth formers going on to study A level science.

    The Centre contains a variety of learning spaces for both taught and independent learning including classrooms, laboratories, a science resource library and a lecture theatre. Each laboratory is fully independent and contains both wet and dry areas, with generous individual desk and write-up space.

    A dramatic three-story entrance hall serves as an informal zone between the more formal teaching rooms for individual subjects, and the outdoor area in front of the building. The entrance hall creates an exciting space for exhibitions or displays, as well as informal break out areas.

    Balconies at first and second floors provide informal and small group teaching areas for the Chemistry and Biology Departments respectively. The Physics Department has direct access to the ground floor of the Entrance Hall itself. Bench seating, local lighting and heating ensure that these spaces are comfortable even in the winter months.

    Constructed on a tight site, the new building addresses the proximity of existing buildings by creating an intimate new landscaped courtyard, with shallow stone steps to accommodate the change in level across the site. Protecting and maximising views across the campus was a key priority and the project offered an opportunity to reinstate historic landscape features such as ‘Kitty Fisher’s Walk’