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Design for success

Penwortham Priory Academy invests in cutting-edge science facilities

Posted by Stephanie Broad | February 04, 2016 | Facilities & buildings

When it comes to science, Penwortham Priory Academy aims high. It’s here in 2014 that 13-year-old Jamie Edwards became the youngest person in the world to create nuclear fusion.

To continue to fire students’ enthusiasm for science, the school wanted to transform their existing labs into cutting-edge learning spaces as part of a £750,000 investment project.

Penwortham’s aim was to create an open-plan learning environment to support more collaborative teaching styles and increase student engagement with STEM subjects. Education interiors specialists Innova Design Solutions worked closely with the school to follow the brief.

Penwortham’s new science facilities replace 1950s labs with colourful, ultra-modern spaces including wet and dry labs, prep areas and research space for students and teachers alike to explore and share ideas.

At the heart of the new facilities is an open-plan central research and collboration area with a vibrant ‘space age’ feel, offering a flexible area for group and individual study. Reconfigurable tables and mobile glass screens which double as writing boards allow staff to adapt the dynamic of the space to meet their needs.

Bright, funky armchairs, storage walls and coffee tables provide a ‘grown-up’, stimulating breakout area, whilst a dramatic constellation and futuristic orb displays add a real ‘wow’ factor – and a creative way of showcasing students’ work.

Radiating from the central hub, wet and dry labs offer contemporary, professional-looking spaces for practical and theory lessons. In the dry lab, reconfigurable pod units enable desks to be rearranged to accommodate a range of teaching styles.

The wet lab offers a working classroom and a practical laboratory in one space.

With services located out of reach on the front face of the units, the layout removes clutter and distraction from the students’ workspace, enabling them to move quickly between practical and theory sessions.

An ICT area, perfect for online research, provides additional workspace for students. Inspired by the way phone booths at Berlin airport accommodated space for luggage, the sawtooth-style desking gives each pupil an individual workspace and the guarantee of plenty of elbow room to carry out their studies.

To assist technicians, an open-plan prep room with a central preparation desk offers plenty of space to prepare for practicals and demonstrations. Lockable perimeter storage units ensure chemicals and equipment can be accessed easily and stored securely.

To support students’ learning in biology and encourage a sense of responsibility for animals a specially created pet zone has been installed, giving Penwortham’s hamsters, fish and insects a stylish new home to match their modern surroundings.

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