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Lab Design

Lab 21 sketch design of school science lab

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

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.

New special report for 2015 - latest advice and guidance from lab design expert, Andy Piggott, provides an overview of design for architects, designers and schools (download report pdf).

Main Guidance

Science Accommodation in Secondary Schools: A Design Guide Building Bulletin 80, DfE (2004)
Designing and Planning Laboratories Guide G14, CLEAPSS (2009)

School Science Architecture Special Reports

Part 1 Science Prep Rooms in Secondary Schools: An introduction to prep room design for architects and designers (2010)
Part 2 Science Labs in Secondary Schools: Recommended science lab standards for architects and designers (2011)
Part 3 The Chemicals Store: Design of storage accommodation for chemicals (2013)
Part 4 School Science Accommodation: An overview of design for architects, designers and schools (2015) view online

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. School Science Laboratories Design for the 21st Century (2006) 

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. Project Faraday Book (2008) 

Lab Design Gallery

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:

G9 Fume Cupboards in Schools (revised by CLEAPSS 2014)
BB93 Acoustic Design of Schools Performance Standards. Please also see Acoustics of Schools: a design guide
BB98 Briefing Framework for Secondary School Projects
BB100 Design for Fire Safety in Schools
BB101 Ventilation of School Buildings
BB102 Designing for Children with SEN
BB103 Area Guidelines for Mainstream Schools
BB80 Science Accommodation in Secondary Schools 

Managing School Facilities Guide 7 Furniture and Equipment in School

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 book, Topics in Safety, 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) 

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