Science centre opens at girls’ school

R H Partnership has completed a new £4.7 million science centre for St Helen and St Katharine School in Abingdon

R H Partnership has completed work on a new science centre for St Helen and St Katharine School for girls. With a construction cost of £4.7m, the centre provides the school with a purpose-built science teaching facility which houses 12 laboratories (four each for biology, chemistry and physics) and features break-out areas for displays and for collaborative learning outside of the laboratory.

The centre connects to the original school via a new three-storey atrium link. This space provides a flexible area of 200 sqm and can be used for school events. An original Edwardian façade has been conserved and faces a series of balconies. The design incorporates multiple skylights and glazed screens provide long views between spaces and to the world outside. Circulation zones are equipped with recessed bag and lab coat storage to minimise crowding at lesson changeover.

Environmental performance was a key consideration and the design has received an Energy Performance Certificate rating of ‘A’ for its insulation, low air leakage, natural lighting and low-energy luminaires. External shading devices reduce heat gains in summer and space has been allowed for photovoltaic panels to be added in future.

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