Sector: ,


The Wells Free School, Tunbridge Wells

Construction value:


Design team:


Berkeley Homes


Bond Bryan Architects

Main Contractor: 

Berkeley Homes

M&E Consultant: 

Building Services Design


In 1934 Kent & Sussex Hospital opened in Tunbridge Wells, it provided 281 beds to those from the West Kent and East Sussex areas, until it was closed in September 2011.  Berkeley Homes have constructed a new, mixed use development on the old hospital site compromising new town houses, flats, large office block and a new free school.

The new build free school is a junior school built over three floors, and was fully fitted out for immediate occupation.  BSD were employed to carry out the M&E design of the new school.


The site of the new school is very near a busy road where high nitrogen oxide emissions have been recorded.   Finding the best ventilation system was a challenge as it needed  to provide adequate ventilation, away from the noxious fumes, and at the same time prevent  overheat and maintain a comfortable temperature.


The system that BSD designed brought in fresh air from the rear of the building, away from the main road.  The ingress was at roof level to draw in cleaner air as NOx fumes are heavier than air gases and therefore more dense at lower levels.  The ventilation shaft ran horizontally across the roof and then down through the centre of the building allowing each classroom to be fed from this central point.  In addition, the mechanical ventilation in each classroom was fitted with filters as an extra level of protection.


The Wells Free School opened in September 2013 with only Reception and years 1 & 2, housed in temporary cabins at one end of the hospital site, whilst the school was being built. The school was successfully handed over during the summer 2016 and will open in 2017.