Laboratories, Dulwich College, London

Following a competition run by Colander to find masterplanners for the College, the dilapidated, 1950’s designed, science facilities needed to be replaced.  

The brief called for 21 state-of-the-art science labs, a 240 seater auditorium and an exhibition space.


The competition was won by Grimshaw working with Alan Baxter & Associates, Mott MacDonald Fulcrum and boydengroup

The other three shortlisted teams were:

AL-A with AKTII, Max Fordham and Davis Langdon  Hopkins with Expedition Engineering and Atelier Ten  Walters & Cohen with AKTII, Skelly and Couch, Synergy and Davis Langdon


This invited competition, to find architect-led design teams with whom the College could develop proposals, was formatted as a competitive interview. No specific designs were requested.

Nine architects, some seen by the client during the master planning competition, were invited to visit the site, converse with the client and then submit an Expression of Interest on behalf of their chosen team; four teams were selected to attend an interview with the College, following interviews, a winner was selected.

Our involvement

  • Designing the right competitive process
  • Researching and identifying potential competitors to invite
  • Writing the competition rules
  • Writing the competition brief
  • Planning the competition timetable and budget
 to meet client requirements
  • Acting as point of contact for the competition
  • Ensuring a clear and ethical process
  • Briefing the jury panel
  • Briefing competitors
  • Managing the competitive process
  • Advising on and then managing the scoring/evaluation procedures
  • Arranging and facilitating interviews and presentations
  • Creating an audit trail
  • Competition administration
  • Debriefing and follow up

"Dulwich College regularly calls on Caroline Cole and Colander for wise counsel and practical support in all matters relating to architecture and masterplanning. Colander has twice supported us in high-profile competitions and we have been very pleased with the processes and the results.

Caroline is a clear and effective communicator and everyone who engages with her and her clients feels equally valued and well-looked after (whether successful in their bids or not). The fields she has produced, decided from an extensive long-list in consultation with us, have always been balanced and exciting; they comprise the great and the good and interesting young firms who learn a great deal from the process. No one ever feels his or her time is wasted. I recommend Colander and Caroline Cole enthusiastically and without hesitation."

— Dr Joe Spence, Master, Dulwich College


  • The client wanted to attract interest from architects who had not necessarily been involved with school design before.
  • The client wanted to select from the very best established and up-and-coming practitioners from the London area.
  • The client put as much emphasis on creating places for people as it did on creating a built environment.
  • The building needed to be sensitive to its historic setting, adjacent to the main College building designed in the 1870’s by Charles Barry Junior.
  • The winning team would be required to advise on the retention or demolition of the existing buildings.
  • The competition involved a rigorous, auditable procurement route.
  • The selection panel included a wide variety of people: teachers, governors and pupils as well as estates management.