The continual evolution of a world-class campus for Bangkok

Wellington College International Bangkok opened in 2018 with a beautiful, and highly innovative, pre-prep and prep building and full sports facilities. The second phase was to build a bespoke senior school and auditorium to take the school to capacity of 1500 students and deliver a facility and environment befitting of the Wellington name and aspirations. Iain Henderson, Deputy Head (partnerships) Wellington College, caught up with Chris Nicholls, Master of Wellington College International Bangkok, about his ambitions for the new building, now under construction in Bangkok.

Chris, first of all how would you describe the development and objectives of the design for the new Senior School?

In keeping with the spirit of Wellington College International Bangkok, the new senior school will be in a light and airy, innovative educational setting. Ultimately, it has been very carefully designed inside and out to capture the ‘tone’ of what our school will be: vibrant, stimulating,thought-provoking, innovative (but not gratuitously so), and truly excellent.

There will be two new buildings each with a 400 student capacity, and a second larger sports hall. The five-storey building has a magnificent cylindrical library and atrium at its centre running top to bottom. This provides many extra spaces for reading and learning, with great natural lighting. On the ground floor, flexible partitioning creates flexible spatial uses, as well as providing a strong line of sight connection across the whole senior school – through the central atrium and library, towards the dining room. The dining area itself feels like a relaxed resort hotel, open to the ornamental lake on one side! Throughout the next three floors are well-appointed, flexible and innovatively designed classrooms with extra spaces allowing for different types of teaching and learning. Specific rooms for Harkness teaching are designed into the fabric of the building so that Harkness methodology is appropriately planned and specific. A key innovation is the introduction of ‘faculty salons’ for both staff and students in each subject area.

On the top floor is the art department, a beautifully light, creative space, as well as performing arts spaces including an 84 seat performance facility. This is in addition to the new auditorium next door.

How do you envisage the development of the curriculum?

We will be offering IGCSE and A-level, with the possibility to consider the IB diploma programme perhaps when the cohorts grow. Regardless of the curriculum, the school is very aligned to the IB philosophy and the Learner Profile, so equivalents to Theory of Knowledge, CAS and the Extended Essay will be embedded into the curriculum.

As in any Wellington College school, the curriculum is not restricted to the academic. The excellence of Well-being, pastoral care and the co-curriculum will be central to the school culture.

What do you see as the biggest challenges, and the most exciting aspects, of the development of the senior school?

With a smile, Chris replied: “The same things!” One major challenge is that Bangkok is a really competitive market, piled high with good schools, and Wellington always wants to be at the very top of that pile! We are not trying to be all things to all people, but to build a truly outstanding, distinctively and recognisably Wellington College school, rightfully at the top of many peoples lists when choosing a school for their children.

What is really exciting is the chance to design a senior school that links the underlying education philosophy to the reality of education and experience every day in school. Wellington provides a truly holistic all-round education underpinned by a strong foundation of the Wellington values.The chance to make that aspiration concrete is both a great responsibility and an exciting sense of purpose.

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