10th June 2020 — The RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Awards celebrate the very best of architecture in the UK, and the winning regional projects will go on to compete for the national awards later in the year. The three-storey, state-of-the-art building is a blend of the old and the new, combining much of the Victorian architecture of the school’s original science building with a magnificent new extension, innovative classroom layouts and latest technology.
Its features include an interactive periodic table, a roof garden and greenhouse, a giant TV wall, three libraries and an observation hive for studying bees. It is the venue for Tonbridge’s popular ‘Science for Schools’ days for local primary pupils, and also hosts public lectures and a variety of other events.
Named after former Tonbridge pupil Sir Derek Barton, an organic chemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1969, the Barton Science Centre was officially opened in March 2019 by NASA astronauts and former International Space Station Commanders Dr Michael Foale CBE and Dr Steve Swanson. In the same month, Tonbridge became the first UK school to host the ‘Mission Discovery’ educational programme. This saw pupils from various Kent schools attending the centre in order to work on exciting space-themed experiments, with the winning design to be conducted in space after being flown on board NASA spacecraft Space X, CRS 20 earlier this year.
The building was designed by architectural practice BDP, and was funded in part by the many hundreds of donors who contributed to the school’s ‘Excellence for All’ campaign over a period of several years.
James Priory, Headmaster of Tonbridge School, said: “RIBA Awards are renowned across the world and I’m sure all at the school will be thrilled with this significant recognition. The Barton Science Centre plays a huge role at Tonbridge, placing us at the forefront of teaching and learning in modern science, and has an important role as a hub in the community, hosting primary school visits, family days, international student conferences, school competitions and public talks.”