Surprise Museum Design
2nd April 2015

Oundle School pupil Henry Chen (16) has won second prize in the National Design Museum 14-19 awards. The brief was ‘Surprise’ which involved designing an external structure outside the Design Museum which would provide a meeting point for passers-by.

250 young designers from all over the country entered the competition in their free time, demonstrating passion and commitment for design. Henry’s mature presentation of an illuminating seating system impressed the judges at the awards ceremony in London. Not only did his concept show elegance and ingenuity, but he had considered the sustainability of the design by proposing use of a hybrid nanomaterial to convert heat energy from the person sitting on the chair into light energy.

As part of the awards ceremony, Henry was able to take part in a workshop with one of the Museum’s current Designers in Residence and have a guided tour of the Museum. 

Oundle School Design and Technology teacher, Becca Lowndes commented, “Henry has an extraordinary talent for sketching and is proving to be extremely driven in his ambition to become an automotive designer. The morning at the Design Museum gave Henry the chance to work with some of the country's most promising young designers. His enthusiasm and knowledge made him stand out as one to watch. “



 Henry with his design sketches in Oundle's Design and Technology Patrick Centre.

The highly competitive judging process included senior representatives from the Design Museum, Creative and Cultural Skills, Shape Arts and the Museum’s Designer in Residence, architect James Christian.

Henry commented, "It was a pleasure to attend the celebration event held by the Design Museum and I enjoyed every part of it. Our talent in design was recognised and we were encouraged to be imaginative and creative.

The reason I chose my particular design was not only because it runs on sustainable energy, but I also like the idea that chairs and tables don't need to look like the way they are stereotypically designed; their shapes could be unusual, in this case, cubes and pyramids lying sideways, which matches with the theme ‘Surprise’.

My ambition is to work in automotive industries. For A level I have chosen Art, DT, Physics, Maths and Further Maths and want to pursue my interests in engineering.”

For further details about the competition visit:


About Oundle School’s new SciTec Campus linking STEM subjects


Since the days of the celebrated Headmaster F. W. Sanderson, arguably the greatest educationalist of his age, Oundle has been recognised as one of the foremost schools for Science and Engineering in the country. In 2007, SciTec, a major and ground-breaking new science complex, opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. Oundle is now undertaking a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department built adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. 

Due for completion by September 2016, this development will position Oundle at the heart of applying science and embrace developments in new fields such as nanotechnology and mechatronics. It will enable pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology.  All STEM disciplines will be united both philosophically and physically, enabling pupils to understand fully how all the different stages interact.

The current Patrick Centre will be extended and exhaustively refurbished, re-launching as the Patrick Engineering Centre. The current ‘large projects’ space for which Oundle is famous will be retained but relocated, and a design laboratory for prototyping and design work will be created, acoustically segregated from the practical facilities.  A ‘clean laboratory’ will be provided adjacent to the design laboratory, enabling high-tech processes such as 3D printing and robotics to be deployed.  In addition to the large projects space, there will be four open-plan workshop bays that will enable pupils to be taught in small groups whilst sharing fixed machinery, as well as two new dedicated classrooms for design and theory that will be easily accessible from the workshops. 

The new Mathematics department will form the major part of an extension to the current SciTec building, which was envisaged as a future development of the original design. It will thereby complete the original architectural aspiration of a grand entrance to the whole SciTec Campus. An internal quadrangle will be created, giving equal status to all disciplines as well as a proper regard to the newly-refurbished Adamson Centre opposite, encouraging an interplay between Modern Languages and SciTec.  

The extension will also provide two new science project rooms adjacent to the current Biology and Chemistry laboratories, enabling experiments and projects to be carried out over a longer time-frame than is currently possible. This will bring particular benefits for pupils working on Extended Project Qualifications (EPQs). 

The School offers two Scholarships for Design and Technology, one at 13+ and one at 16+. Entry forms and further details are available on the admissions section of the School website:



Background Information on Oundle School

Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.

The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion due to open April 2015. 

There are currently 1100 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 850 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11. 

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