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New Science Building for Dulwich College by Grimshaw; Photo: ©Daniel Shearing

Pixelated: New Science Building for Dulwich College by Grimshaw

A new laboratory building at Dulwich College has replaced the one from the 1950s, which was described by the architect as a “fortress of science” not necessarily in the figurative sense, but rather in reference to the architectural language of the building: functional and reserved. In contrast, the new building by Grimshaw offers a physical and intellectual experience – it presents itself as both open and flexible.

A three-storey, light-flooded atrium in the S-shaped structure enables views over the historical old building and the grounds. Scientific laboratories are grouped around a 240-seat auditorium. The interdisciplinary teaching approach is reflected in the design of the building in the balance between the clearly defined laboratory rooms and informal learning spaces.

The façade is equally remarkable: Grimshaw invited a renowned artist, Peter Randall-Page, to design it. The artist developed an algorithm for the distribution of terracotta tiles in the size of the individual tile pattern on the closed sides of the façade. These pixel-like façade tiles recall both the elementary basis of science – arithmetic – and the origin of all science in nature.

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