On our third day, we again boarded a bus and headed southwest into the English countryside.  What a welcome relief to see such a beautiful landscape, tended and cultivated for centuries.  After leaving the motorway, we entered narrow roads between tall hedgerows.  At times, the roads were too narrow for our bus to navigate and we had some fun watching our skilled driver executing maneuvers to get us through. 

Our first destination that day was the Bryanston School.  This is a private boarding school for 680 students.  The main building is an old country estate that was built in the 1700’s.  It was palatial in scale and detailing.  We were escorted through that structure and into a lecture hall where we heard from a staff architect from Hopkins Architects.  They had recently finished the new science building at Bryanston and we were about to tour it. 

The building is three stories, with Biology on the ground floor that connects to a garden, Physics on the second floor, and Chemistry on the third floor for easy exhausting of fume hoods – or fume cupboards as the English call them. The floor plan was done in a horseshoe shape with classrooms having windows on the outer surface of the horseshoe and circulation and shared study space along the inner surface.  The plan was elegantly simple and nicely detailed with wonderful use of materials.  The only issue for me was that the labs seemed far too small, even given the small class sizes.  All labs are conducted at long tables, with six student chairs on each side.  I could just imagine what our U.S. lab design consultant would have to say about student safety in these circumstances.

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