Chilmington Green Secondary School

DfE approved Free School managed by United Learning
9,250 m2

Net zero carbon in operation secondary school and DfE Pathfinder project

Chilmington Green Secondary Academy will provide much-needed, modern facilities for 1140 students aged 11-18 years.

The design for this landmark local building has been developed in close consultation with the Trust, DfE and wider consultant team to create an inspirational, future-looking, attractive and functional school which aims to become a visual beacon for the Chilmington Green development.

Rooted in the local area, the building seeks inspiration from the local countryside and provides contemporary reference to its Kentish setting. The mass of the large building, is broken down through the introduction of material richness and detailing to give vertical emphasis to this professional learning environment.

We achieved this by engaging often with the school team through a series of Client Engagement Meetings which gave us valuable insights into how we could capture the school’s vision in the design proposal.

In addition to the school team, we had several pre-app meetings with the local planning authority, a design review panel session and we held a public consultation with key stakeholders.

The building itself is at the forefront of the built environment’s learning and progress towards a sustainable planet for us all.


Chilmington Green was procured on the Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) Framework. The aim of this framework is to drive greater efficiency, innovation and cost savings within DfE capital building programmes, improving ability to successfully procure and deliver new buildings within budget and at pace.

This project uses a load-bearing timber structurally insulation panel system (SIPS), which is a modern method of construction being pioneered at large scale in DfE school design. Resolving the details to achieve NZC and reduce thermal bridging whilst maintaining compliance with building regulations has required careful thought and collaboration with built environment experts.

A key innovation on Chilmington Green is the thermal labyrinth beneath the teaching block which provides passively cooled air to the large spaces in the centre of the plan.

Research & Development

We have worked extensively to coordinate the SIPS MMC structural strategy across the design team. This has been particularly important in ensuring the thermal labyrinth can function whilst acting as the foundation support to the building.


This Pathfinder building will achieve NZC in operation through a range of measures: building orientation, efficient form factor, improved thermal fabric, natural ventilation, renewable technologies, protective landscape, and adaptive fenetration.

Social value

The school building will provide a wide range of community facilities and will be available as a valuable asset early in the development of Chilmington Green.