Science Labs

This posed a new design challenge. Whilst the practical function of a Biology and Chemistry Lab and Class Room was clear enough, what wasn’t obvious was the spiritual identity or purpose for a science building. Without a deeper purpose we are left with practical functionality alone, which can be resolved  quite easily through good design, but the results would be utilitarian with little inspirational power or value.

In the case of the previous buildings it was straight forward. It is easy to see the link between a Library / Administration building and the qualities of ‘Thinking’ and ‘Sense Perception’. It is also easy to relate the changing qualities of the lower school class rooms to the changing states of consciousness in the child. But what might be the appropriate essence to incorporate into a Science Lab? It couldn’t be the consciousness of the students since the rooms were being used by many age groups. For a while qualities such as ‘interest and curiosity or observation’ seemed to suggest themselves until, in conversation with a colleague, the idea of ‘Life forces’ came up. This instantly made sense. In the sister document (TMP&A) attached to the Master Plan and referred to several times above, there is a separate chapter about Life forces or the so called ‘etheric body’. To quote a passage from there: “It is a tragedy that main stream materialistic science has been unable or unwilling to establish the reality of etheric forces. Etheric forces keep the body alive and whole.  Physical Forces cause it to fall apart, rot and decay. Considering the nature of physical forces, there is little wonder about the effects produced by a science and technology that is exclusively based on these forces. However, there is much research in this field happening to day all over the world and in many branches of science, although not within conventional main stream science. But then genuinely new developments and discoveries rarely originate within conventional thought, which is easily threatened and routinely resists them until the momentum swings the other way.”  In other words, if the qualities of the ‘Etheric Forces or Life Forces’ could be made to be the inspiring idea for a science building  the spaces created might contribute to provide the inspiration for a future science that is supportive of life and in harmony with the natural world. Once the overall ‘essence or purpose’ had been found, the actual design process could start.

The idea was to treat each Lab slightly differently. The Chemistry Lab has its strongest connection to “Sound Ether” which is also referred to as “Chemical Ether”. The Biology Lab, in dealing with ‘life’ as the name implies, would focus more on ‘Life ether’ and the totality of all four ethers together, which characterize every living creature.

The overall gesture of both Science Labs is the upward thrust of the domed roofs, breaking through the lower roof sections like the new bud breaks through the bark of the tree. This upward movement carries within it the quality of levity and lightness, without which the sap couldn’t rise in the tree and living creatures could not move and defy gravity.


The space inside the Biology Lab is whole and undivided while in the Chemistry Lab the walls expand and contract in a rhythm as if to divide the room into separate cells. The work benches in both rooms are crafted out of thick timber and are shaped  in a meandering form  out of which  the various work stations emerge.

Chemistry Lab Interior

In the Chemistry room the work stations are fewer and larger and continue the image of cell division suggested through the contracting walls. In the Biology Lab the workstations are more numerous and form smaller intervals in line with the stronger internal force and the dominance of the whole over its parts.

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