Dulwich Prep’s new purpose made building accommodates all of the school’s science and design & technology classrooms.
Following the demolition of an existing maintenance building, the new Pennock Centre for Science & Technology is located between two very distinct Victorian buildings, which presented a challenge for the architects Lee Evans Partnership (LEP) in placing an unusual and modern intervention in this setting. The design also had to comply with Southwark Council’s stipulated height and projection in relation to the existing buildings either side.
LEP’s design approach first looked to strengthen the yellow-bricked Victorian building to the right of the site with a new brick gable mirroring the existing one, so creating a new symmetry to the building, as the golden ratio suggested that the building was incomplete. Once this was designed in, the glass box of the new Pennock Centre had a much better abutment to the flanking buildings.
Periodic table design on the exterior glass wall
Challenges in the design of the new building itself included achieving neat finishes at wall and floor junctions backing onto the glass façade, and maintaining fire and acoustic integrity whilst not affecting aesthetics. The precision in coordinating the glass finish came down to millimetres.
Phil Ward, Project Architect at LEP, said: “Our concept behind the design approach was to reflect not only the subjects taught within – which are generally clinical and forward-thinking subjects – but also to relay the school’s pursuit of the most up to date facilities and teaching environments whilst acknowledging its traditional values, represented by the existing built fabric. The design makes a statement but doesn’t dominate. We opted against a design approach that copies the surrounding Victorian buildings, avoiding potential for poorly executed pastiche design and so retain the value of the original historic buildings flanking the new. This also responds to the NPPF, promoting quality in new builds and resisting the imposition of particular architectural styles or tastes that stifle originality.”
Inside the DT classroom
As well as science and design & technology classrooms, the Pennock Centre also contains an aquarium on the first floor in the science department, and a cookery classroom. The building exceeds the energy efficiency and renewable energy standards required of such a development. On the flat roof there is a wild flower garden complete with beehives, an observatory and PV cells. Inside, quality LED lights, intelligent solar detector lighting, part natural part mechanical ventilation and thermal mass all contribute to the building’s sustainability.