UPPINGHAM SCHOOL: Biophilic Design in Education

Oliver Heath Biophilic design, Education, Healthy spaces, Schools

Uppingham School

We’ve just completed another exciting education project at New House in Uppingham School.

The project involved refurbishing an existing (girls) boarding house with a focus on creating fresh feeling spaces, enhancing a sense of community to bring the girls together and helping to develop a sense of nature in the spaces. The refurbishment was focused specifically around carefully tailored colour schemes, new flooring and window treatments and acoustic considerations for the noisy, communal dining area.

During our visit to Uppingham and our discussions with both students and staff, we identified the following issues:

  • Students were spending less time being sociable in communal spaces
  • The available shared spaces were lacking in activity-based zoning, making it hard for students to use the rooms effectively (e.g. combination of noisy sociable activity and quiet working spaces in the same room)
  • The existing spaces were dated and the use of colour was off putting to students
  • The existing design was uninviting to prospective students and parents and lacked a sense of welcoming homeliness.


We hoped to reconnect students throughout the year groups by developing a scheme which encourages communal activity and the formation of new connections. Working collaboratively with Uppingham School we have identified the preferred use of each area within New House and developed a scheme to reflect the intended activity of the spaces. This activity based zoning will help to enhance students work, social and recuperative opportunities.


Several spaces share a use between different floors, we’ve therefore created a zone specific theme which will apply across multiple floors of the building so that all social spaces/ work spaces/ relaxed spaces have the same materials pallet.

After having carried out the installation we were thrilled to get lots of great feedback from both staff members and students!


‘It’s so much easier showing prospective parents around now; they can read the use and feel of the rooms without any explanation from us!’

‘We’ve already noticed a difference in questions from prospective parents from general admissions queries to ‘how do I apply to this house’’

‘The house is much less disorientating now, when I step out of a room into the corridor I know right away where I am’



We feel much more comfortable in our own spaces…we can tell how each area of the room is supposed to be used’

‘Love the working common room [the co-working space] it really gives us freedom to use the room in a way which suits us which makes it much easier to work’

‘I really love the use of vibrant colours near the windows because it draws you towards the view’

 ‘I never used to work well in my room. I would always go to the study rooms. But now I work well and feel able to focus in my room. I get easily distracted around others’

‘New house was nobody’s first choice we were all here by default – but now it’s our favourite house

Overall, we managed to create a playful and engaging design scheme which has been good for both students and staff. We have been thrilled to see the coming together of students from different year groups enhancing their sense of community whilst supporting a focused working environment.