Lab Design

Lab Design

Science labs are a crucial part of secondary science learning. Most practical activities at this level require the availability of specialist resources and services.

Main Guidance

The learning environment can have a great impact on teaching and learning, yet the design of science spaces in schools and colleges is often overlooked in the planning stages. Resources shown here will help develop the thinking of science leaders, advisers, architects, designers and SLT around science accommodation in schools, whether for a new science suite or the refurbishment of a single lab or prep room. Design should be considered carefully at the outset as poor design will impact on generations of pupils, teachers and technicians.

Image: Space station design, courtesy of S+B UK

School Science Architecture Special Reports

Suitably modern science laboratories and equipment are vital to pupils’ science education, not just in terms of meetings the curriculum requirements but also indirectly by enthusing them to study these subjects further.

Design Initiatives

Laboratory 21 reports on design concepts to modernise learning environments by analysing forms of teaching, end users' needs and design inspiration. It was compiled in Northern Ireland by science advisers and designers working together. 

Project Faraday was a government programme to promote innovative science facilities to inspire teachers and learners. This report showcases 6 exemplar schools including floor plans, furniture layouts and artists’ impressions. 

Lab Design Portfolio

Our gallery shows a wide range of designs that can be used to explore ideas for new or refurbished accommodation.

Thanks to contributors who have shared their images and designs.

Science spaces within the whole school environment

The Education Funding Agency, part of the Department for Education, publishes designs for whole schools called 'Baseline Designs'. These are a standardised set of drawings and specifications for primary and secondary schools that aim to be cost effective and use space efficiently. Find Baseline Designs.

Department for Education (DfE) Building Bulletins

Schools Premises Regulations and associated guidance have been reduced in recent years, with many sections likely to refer to design being merely ‘suitable’. The following guidance can show what ‘suitable' might mean.

Special Guidance

Health and Safety is a consideration in any lab design, but the driving force should be teaching and learning outcomes. Laboratory Design for Health and Safety is an article from the ASE resources, Topics in Safety (ASE members only), that offers advice whether you are designing a new lab or refurbishing accommodation. Ensuring health and safety is incorporated at the design stage can mitigate against costly mistakes that need to be rectified.

Design for SEN Design of Science Accommodation in Special Schools is a short report from ASE author, Andy Piggott (2005) offering guidance for creating science spaces for pupils with special needs.

Lab design in Scotland Guidance in Scotland is provided by SSERC, along with their Laboratory design: a guide for schools and colleges in Scotland (2014) www.sserc.org.uk 

Fume Cupboards in Schools CLEAPSS Guide G9 2014 revised Building Bulletin 88 (Schools in Scotland should refer to Routine Fume Cupboard Testing, 2011, SSERC)