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The Lab of the Future team

Birmingham students design own classroom

Innova Design start work on classroom researched, planned and designed by year 11 pupils

Posted by Stephanie Broad | July 04, 2016 | Bricks & mortar

Work to construct what is thought to be the world’s first classroom researched, planned and designed entirely by students is underway in Birmingham. 

And it’s not just a standard classroom – it’s a state-of-the-art science lab. 

King Edward VI Camp Hill School year 11 pupils Simi Bhamra, Phoebe Thomas, Kate Pham and Chloe Taylor will soon be able to tour the lab they designed for mixed sciences. 

The team won a nationwide competition for students to design a school science lab when they submitted a 52-page planning document that organisers Innova Design Solutions said was one of the most detailed proposals they’d ever seen. 

Designs for the new lab

Innova has now begun installing the futuristic science lab which includes an innovative new horseshoe seating layout conceived as part of the girls’ design. 

Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Thomas, the team’s project manager, said: “Winning the competition was one thing, but when we found out that the school was going to turn our design into a fully functioning classroom, it was incredible – and really quite scary! 

“Obviously at the moment, we’re all studying towards our GCSEs and have busy exam timetables so unfortunately we’re on teacher’s orders to stay away until the lab is finished. We’re all incredibly excited to see the finished lab for ourselves and can’t wait to get in there once work completes.”

Assistant Headteacher Dr Janet Rose, who teaches chemistry, said: “Science labs are usually planned by designers with a varying degree of input from teachers – so it’s great to think of pupils designing their own classroom and I’m really pleased that the designs and ideas of these talented pupils will now feature in a real lab!

“As a school we were very impressed by the girls’ designs so we just had to make the lab a reality. By doing this we are getting a classroom that will work for everybody that uses it – teachers and pupils – like nothing before it. From my point of view, I can’t wait to get in there and teach some classes.” 

Lab of the Future designers

Innova will convert a former physics lab that contained limited services into a fully functional mixed sciences lab that will be used primarily for chemistry. Melanie Laing, director at Innova Design Solutions, concludes: “When we launched the competition last year, it was not envisaged that the winning lab would actually be built as the prize we offered was for £20,000 of lab furniture. It speaks volumes about the quality of the entry that the school was adamant they needed to fund its completion. 

“We’re confident that this is the first instance that pupils have researched, planned and designed their own classroom – and it’s going to be really inspirational. We look forward to unveiling the finished lab in July.”

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