School in contention for Architects’ Journal Retrofit Award
Barton Science Centre
A world-class hub for teaching, learning, innovation and discovery
Tonbridge’s state-of-the-art Barton Science Centre, which opened for teaching in January 2019, puts science and technology at the very heart of the school.
One of the most ambitious developments to happen on the campus since the first science building was constructed in 1887, the three-storey centre combines new classrooms and latest technology with many original architectural features.
Named after British organic chemist Sir Derek Barton, an Old Tonbridgian who won the Nobel Prize 50 years ago in 1969, the centre places Tonbridge at the cutting edge of school science. It will also help the school to realise its ambitions of stimulating future generations in their studies and inspiring many to embark on scientific careers.
Bill Burnett, Tonbridge’s Head of Science, describes the centre as “innovative, fun and inspirational”. “Science will be at the heart of the school, and our teaching and learning will be pioneering within our new space. This is an exciting new chapter,” he says.
We believe very strongly in two things. Firstly, that in an increasingly technological society facing all sorts of urgent global challenges, every young person needs to be equipped with a good understanding of science. Secondly, to meet those global challenges, we need new technologies based on a new generation of young scientific minds. Tonbridge, as an institution, wants to help inspire that new generation.
The Barton Science Centre will also have a wider public benefit as a regional hub and centre of excellence. Tonbridge plans, for instance, to expand its popular programme of ‘Science for Schools’ days for local primary and secondary pupils, and will also be staging public lectures and a variety of other events.
In the week commencing 18 March 2019 Tonbridge became the first school in the UK to host ‘Mission Discovery’, a course in which young people designed an experiment to be carried out on the International Space Station. Pupils from various schools also had the opportunity to meet, and hear talks by, NASA astronauts.
A Student Science Conference, an Art Exhibition, a Science Competition for Year 9 and Year 10 pupils and The Planets concert by the school's Symphony Orchestra also marked the launch of the Barton Science Centre, in the run-up to the official opening on Saturday 23 March.
The Departments of Chemistry, Biology and Physics now enjoy greatly expanded facilities, including new laboratories and classrooms. The Barton Science Centre includes an interactive periodic table, a giant TV wall, its own bee hive, a roof garden, a greenhouse and three departmental libraries, to name just a few of its features.
The Official Opening of The Barton Science Centre, Saturday 23 March 2019
Highlights: Fanfare 0.26; Chairman’s address 06.14; OT Scientists’ tribute 11.15; Unveiling 33.55
Mission Discovery at Tonbridge School: Monday 18 March to Friday 22 March 2019
Chapel Talk: Saturday 23 March 2019
Countdown to the launch of The Barton Science Centre
ITV Meridian News report: Thursday 21 March 2019
BBC South East Today report: Monday 18 March 2019
First Impressions of The Barton Science Centre
The 'Barton's Chair' Sculpture Commission
The Final Elements
There is still time to get involved and be part of this iconic facility. The school is making a final push to raise the remaining £250,000 to complete its campaign: all gifts, no matter their size, will help us reach the final campaign target.
If you walk around you are more likely to see teachers and students building a Heath Robinson machine side-by-side, than you are to see a teacher lecturing at the front of a class laid out in rows. It is an extremely exciting time for science at Tonbridge.
Head of Physics
The new building’s ‘mega lab’ has enough space to dedicate six benches to extended investigative practical work outside of lesson time, in which boys will learn the sorts of skills that will help them as scientists beyond school.
Head of Biology
We have a wide variety of teaching spaces with a flexible layout, so that different learning activities can take place in a room designed for that purpose. The addition of two new 360º fume cupboards allows for the most exciting demonstrations to reach more students than ever before.
Head of Chemistry
Observation Hive provides boys with new study opportunities
Science experiment will be flown to the International Space Station
The Barton Science Centre represents a major feat of engineering, which skilfully combines the original science building with cutting-edge contemporary architecture. The centre was many years in the planning and was constructed between 2017 and 2018. Today it provides an exciting, inspiring and sustainable series of spaces for the teaching and learning of science in the 21st century.
Some eye-catching statistics:
- 170 tonnes of steel were used in the structure
- 906m2 of glass was installed
- 160,000 hours of construction personnel time were clocked up
- 1400m3 of soil was removed from the site
- 630m3 of concrete was used
- 357m of new drainage was added
- 100 people were on site at the peak time of the project