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grimshaw275Grimshaw has designed three buildings that reflect the needs of 21st century education, with technology, collaboration and wellbeing at the core of each scheme. Creating a sense of openness and transparency, the projects connect staff and students to the remainder of the campus or urban environment. Thoughtful material choices reflect the architectural context, and provide identity and character to important student hubs.

Grimshaw’s design for Duke University’s West Campus Union in North Carolina has re-established the building as the centrepiece of student life. To enhance the wellbeing of staff and students there are dynamic and comfortable spaces to study, dine and socialise. The building redefines the traditional cafeteria with a central atrium that houses 12 dining venues, and exposed kitchens celebrate food and its preparation. 

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The theme of transparency continues to the building’s glass façade which provides sightlines across the precinct and allows ample daylight to permeate the spaces within. Surrounded by Gothic architecture, the Union building provides a modern contrast yet retains and celebrates heritage elements within its interior.


In the UK, The Laboratory at Dulwich College provides an innovative response to the teaching needs of today’s schools. The state-of-the-art science building contains quality laboratories that can be adjusted to create ‘science studio’ environments. The building itself is physically open, designed in an ‘S’ shape, with laboratories wrapping around a multi-purpose auditorium. Large windows link students to the outside world.

The exterior of The Laboratory is both contemporary and sympathetic to a context that includes the adjacent Italianate building by Charles Barry Jr. Embracing pattern, colour, texture and proportion the Grimshaw design team developed a composition of materials that ensures the new building sits in harmony with its historical neighbours.

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The practice's second foray into designing for a high school has culminated in a landmark education precinct in Sydney, Australia. Led by Grimshaw in association with BVN and Arup, the Arthur Phillip High School and Parramatta Public School is an integrated development and the first public high-rise school in the state of New South Wales. Taking cues from previous Grimshaw education projects it provides a prototype for future-focused learning in urban environments.

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Rising 17 storeys, the school’s unique configuration consists of six stacked student communities, or ‘home bases’, each housing a cohort of at least 300 students. They are designed for maximum flexibility and configurability. Project-based learning or STEAM spaces (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) fit between the home bases, which will be equipped with tertiary-style facilities ranging from superlabs to commercial kitchens, set to inspire students as to where their education can take them.

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For more information: Grimshaw

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