Prep Dyson Building competition runners up visit the site

Pupils were interested to learn how technology is supporting the construction project. For example, instead of just a spirit level, the carpenter uses lasers to ensure that the work is straight. Furthermore, when the various pipework and structures are being fitted into the building, they have a clever app which shows a 3D plan of what the finished building will look like. Therefore, elements can be ‘de-constructed’ on the iPad prior to fitting parts of the build, in order to anticipate any potential issues and solve them virtually before completing each stage. Pupils had a great view down into the building from the roof and saw the specific areas which have been designated as ‘living’ walls, including the positions where trees will grow up through the outer wall designs. They also saw the positioning of the plaster boards which Prep pupils have ‘doodled’ on, which have now been hidden within the structure.

Prep pupils create a time capsule for the Dyson Building

There is a buzz of excitement at the Prep School as our pupils eagerly follow the development of the Dyson building. Following our competition in February, our first place competition winners have toured the site, with pupils who came in second and third place look forward to their visits in May.

All children and members of staff at the Prep School have contributed to an innovative ‘time capsule’ idea suggested by Matthew Watling, Senior Project Manager from Kier. They have decorated plaster boards with colourful sketches, signatures and emojis and these are being ‘hidden’ within the walls of the building as each partition on the mezzanine floor is erected.

The project has fascinated our pupils. The real-life engineering and construction, taking place within our grounds on such a huge scale, has provided incredible learning opportunities, especially for those with a keen interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths.

A topping out ceremony has been held for the Dyson Building

A topping out ceremony has been held for the much anticipated Dyson Building. Due to open in September 2021, the new centre for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education was made possible by a generous donation from Old Greshamian, Sir James Dyson who attended the school from 1956 to 1965.

The topping out ceremony, which took place on the rooftop of the Dyson Building, is traditionally held when the last beam (or its equivalent) is placed atop a structure during its construction. To mark this milestone, Michael Goff, Chairman of Governors, ceremoniously poured a beer over the roof and made a short speech to the assembled group which included representatives from Gresham’s, the main contractor Kier, architects Wilkinson Eyre and the Daniel Connal Partnership.

Dennis Cotton, Operations Director at Kier, said, “Kier is proud to be delivering, in collaboration with Gresham’s, a building that will enhance pupils’ learning for generations to come.”

A state-of-the-art structure at the heart of our school, the Dyson Building spans 4000m² of space and will create a contemporary arts and science teaching facility incorporating classrooms, laboratories, workshops and flexible use open plan common areas. The striking, open, light steel structure has been designed to blend sympathetically with the surrounding buildings. With exposed structure and services, a principle behind the design is for pupils to be able to see how the building functions rather than concealing its workings behind ceilings and linings.

The building of a dedicated centre for STEAM subjects disrupts the established narrative that young people must choose between science and the arts at an early stage of their life. By teaching these subjects side by side, pupils will begin to see how knowledge gained from one discipline can be used in a creative way in another. Creativity and original thinking have always been the cornerstones of a Gresham’s education; the Dyson Building will establish state-of-the-art facilities to see this continue into the mid 21st century.

Douglas Robb, Headmaster, said, “As Sir James himself would say engineers are people who look at problems and find solutions. We believe it’s important that young people are given the opportunity to get hands on with real projects, learn through trial and error and find solutions. Sir James’ generosity has allowed us to build a space where problem solving is at the heart of our educational thinking. The Dyson Building will act as catalyst to encourage young people to think laterally, work collaboratively and ultimately learn from their failures.”

Working closely with the James Dyson Foundation, we hope the building will become a hub for STEAM education in Norfolk.

Find out more about the Dyson Building here:

Photo credit: Kier

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‘Topping out’ for new Dyson Building at Gresham’s School

Animated fly-through of the Dyson STEAM Building

We are pleased to share an animated fly-through of the Dyson STEAM Building opening in September 2021.

A new home for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics at Gresham’s, the scheme has been designed to create a feeling of openness, both within the building and when you stand within the surrounding buildings and landscape.

A contemporary hub providing an inspiring cross-disciplinary learning environment, the building will incorporate outside teaching spaces which will provide flexible multi use areas that can be used as outdoor classrooms, and can also function as social spaces. The provision of these outdoor classrooms recognises that learning does not stop outside of classroom doors and aims to create a campus where people can come together to share and exchange ideas in social learning spaces.


Planning permission for new Dyson STEAM Building

North Norfolk District Council has granted planning permission for a new centre for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education at Gresham’s.

The Dyson Building has been made possible by a donation from Sir James Dyson, Founder of Dyson and former Gresham’s pupil. The donation is in recognition of Sir James’ ties with the School and is an acknowledgment of his gratitude to the School for giving him the financial support to continue his education following the untimely death of his father, Alec, who taught Classics at Gresham’s.

The building has been designed by Dyson’s architects Wilkinson Eyre, the first practice to achieve two consecutive wins of both the Lubetkin Prize and the Stirling Prize.  Construction will be completed by Kier with other contractors working in partnership to deliver unique aspects of this state-of the-art building.

Construction will commence in Easter 2020 and the building will be completed by September 2021, in time for the start of the new academic year.

Douglas Robb, Gresham’s Headmaster, said: “The Dyson Building represents an aspiration jointly held by Sir James and Gresham’s School; that learning should be joined up and innovation encouraged.

“The granting of planning permission edges us closer to delivering a truly inspiring STEAM centre where technology, high-quality teaching and collaboration will be brought to the fore.

“The building also provides opportunities to expand the outreach programmes Gresham’s currently runs with local schools and community organisations.

“The positives and possibilities are endless, it’s a very exciting time in the history of the School and the benefits of this enormously generous gift will be far reaching.”

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£19m Dyson building at Norfolk school given go-ahead

Full STEAM ahead for £19 million Dyson building at Gresham’s School

Sir James Dyson, Founder of Dyson and Gresham’s alumnus, has donated £18.75 million to Gresham’s School in Holt, Norfolk to enable a new centre for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education. The Dyson Building will be designed by Dyson’s architects Wilkinson Eyre, the first practice to achieve two consecutive wins of both the Lubetkin Prize and the Stirling Prize. It will be located at the heart of Gresham’s Senior School, and will be completed by September 2021.

Douglas Robb, Gresham’s Headmaster, said: “This is by far the largest donation the school has ever received and the new spaces will have an immense impact on the quality of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics education that our students receive, now and for decades to come. We are hugely grateful to Sir James and are excited that our partnership will be a long lasting one. We look forward to working with the James Dyson Foundation to develop new and inventive approaches to teaching and with The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology to explore exciting long-term opportunities for our students to pursue careers in engineering.”

L-R Michael Goff, Sir James Dyson, Douglas Robb ©Gresham’s

The building will enable new approaches to teaching, encouraging project work and collaboration. Spaces will be equipped with the latest technology to ensure the highest levels of teaching; from robotics and programming, to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The building will also provide greatly improved opportunities for the outreach programme which Gresham’s runs with local schools.

Sir James Dyson said, “Engineering and science are the most fulfilling of careers, they are also vitally important to our society and economy. To prime a pipeline of young people who want to study engineering, we must inspire them at the earliest possible stage – I hope this building will do just that. For 20 years, my Foundation has supported science and engineering education. I’ve observed that from the age of around six, children are very engaged; they are inventive, dreaming up ideas, and curious, wanting to know how they can be made. But these traits get stamped out of them, partly by the system and partly because the teaching of these subjects in schools has not kept up with the pace of technological change. By creating state of the art spaces I hope that we can foster, inspire and educate more brilliant young minds. I am so pleased Gresham’s will be leading the charge.”

Sir James joined Gresham’s aged nine attending the school from 1956 to 1965. He has consistently acknowledged his gratitude to the school and its then Headmaster, Logie Bruce-Lockhart, for giving him the financial support to continue his education following the untimely death of his father, Alec, who taught Classics at Gresham’s.

Sir James Dyson said, “Both my parents taught at Gresham’s, and my father was head of the Classics department. When he returned from fighting with the 14th Army in Burma during the war, he threw himself into the life of the school, producing plays, taking games, the CCF and the sailing club. When he was ill, he carried on teaching but died when I was nine. The generosity of the school, particularly Logie, meant I could continue there after his death. I am hugely grateful to Gresham’s for the enlightening and inspiring education that I enjoyed so much”
After leaving Gresham’s, Sir James studied at the Royal College of Art. It was during this time that he became interested in the link between engineering and design and has subsequently donated over £100m to engineering education.

Sir James Dyson, Logie Bruce-Lockhart ©Gresham’s

Engineering and Science Education
James Dyson has long argued for an increased focus on the teaching of Engineering & Technology in schools. In 2002 the James Dyson Foundation, Dyson’s charitable arm, was established to inspire the next generation of engineers. A recent six-year-long project, with schools across Bath, aimed to prove a new teaching model for Design and Technology (D&T) in schools, with a curriculum based on iterative design, problem-led learning, and the installation of modern industry-grade equipment. All the activities – developed by Dyson engineers – map against the new GCSE subject content, making things easy for teachers. The project brought real-life design engineering into the D&T classroom.

The results showed a 37% increase in the number of students who chose to study D&T at GCSE, and improved correlation between gender and engineering. After the study, students were two and a half times more interested in engineering careers. Notably, teachers felt more confident and reported greater enjoyment of the subject amongst their students.

Beyond schools the James Dyson Foundation has supported a range of institutions including The University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, The Royal College of Art as well as establishing the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology on Dyson’s Malmesbury Campus.

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Sir James Dyson donates £19m to his old school in Holt


Sir James Dyson donates £19 million to his old school in Norfolk