The outstanding new Barton Science Centre for long-standing client Tonbridge School encompassed both refurbishment of the existing heritage building and construction of a new modern extension; essentially mixing the old with the new. The school’s vision was to create a 21st century leading science educational facility.
Located on a landlocked site and with shared access within the heart of an occupied school, logistics and safety management were paramount. Working with the school management team from the outset, strategies were developed to enable the school to run uninterrupted in parallel to the construction works. Examples included a segregated walkway bridge which was constructed over the site works to enable students to safely access the chapel for regular services, during which time the site team all downed tools. Deliveries were all precision planned for arrival at agreed times and managed on and off site by a dedicated Gate Manager.
With a number of heritage elements on the project to be preserved, protection was of key importance. Engaging with heritage specialists, the team protected and restored internal and external stone doorways, stone flooring, tiling, stone balustrades, and timber handrails on the historic stairways. The presence of lead paint on the existing sash windows was addressed by specialists who sanded back using specialist equipment and protection measures prior to redecoration.
The project necessitated a high number of temporary works and props to ensure structural stability as the different phases took place. As such, a Temporary Works Engineer was engaged from the outset to assist in the design and planning elements of these works, thus ensuring the programme was met.
Numerous opportunities for engagement were actioned with the school including regular tours for the Governors, staff, parents and students alike. Site demonstrations were hosted and support offered to students with their project work and through career and safety talks. During the works, a number of historic artefacts were discovered including a wartime pillbox and old Elementary Chemistry textbook, which were presented to the school and the Tonbridge Society.
Engagement extended to the school Maintenance Team who were involved throughout the build process as a means to glean a more comprehensive understanding of the building’s design and operational components. CPD events were additionally hosted by the team for clients and consultants and an Open Day provided for the Kent Regional CIOB Group.
The project was successfully delivered to budget and programme and has been shortlisted for the Architects’ Journal Retrofit Awards in addition to achieving a Considerate Constructors Scheme Bronze Award. Named after Nobel Prize winner Sir Derek Barton, the Barton Science Centre was formally opened with NASA astronauts Dr Michael Foale CBE and Dr Steve Swanson taking centre stage.
Colin Toms & Partners