Inside the 500-Year-Old UK School Set to Open Its Doors in Dubai |

Inside the 500-Year-Old UK School Set to Open Its Doors in Dubai

Ahead of its opening this year, we take a look at the new Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai's world-class facilities...

Posted on

7 January 2021

Last updated on 14 January 2022
New Royal Grammar School Guildford Campus in Dubai Sets New Standards of Modern Design

The 40,000 sqm campus has been designed with sustainability and students' wellness in mind and is set to open in September 2021.

One of the most prestigious independent British Curriculum schools in the UK, the Royal Grammar School Guildford, is working with international architecture practice Bogle Architects to create the school’s first campus in the UAE.

Every part of the forward-looking school has been designed to facilitate the Royal Grammar School Guildford’s innovative approach to teaching and learning, while utilising an eco-friendly design to ensure that the building is a sustainable hub.

Located within Majid Al Futtaim’s flagship Dubai community Tilal Al Ghaf – which also includes residential, commercial, leisure and retail elements – the Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai is Bogle Architects’ first design project in the UAE and will accommodate and support up to 2,100 pupils from Early Years through to Prep and Senior School.

Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai campus

The impressive campus is set over approximately 40,000 sqm, with classrooms, labs and other learning spaces linked by a beautiful ‘street’ concept featuring a lush, central atrium of trees, plants and living ‘biophilic’ walls.

The ‘street’ serves as a communal hub and breakout space for pupils as well as an extension of every classroom, providing a thoroughly modern and flexible learning environment with nature at its heart to reinforce students' wellbeing.

There will also be a 500+ seat, multi-purpose auditorium, an impressive double-storey library, a multi-functional sports facility including a 25-metre swimming pool, a smaller learning pool and a full-size football pitch.

The campus design seeks to maximise the school’s sustainability and provide an environment that aids children and staff wellness. The stepped design of the main building, with each successive floor expanding outwards, ensures the classrooms are self-shaded from the year-round Dubai sunshine, mitigating solar impact. This smart design feature will also provide the younger children located at ground level with 27 Early Years and Primary classrooms with exterior and interior play areas.

The Facility will also provide passive ventilation and biophilic elements, creating create a cool, comfortable learning environment that supports pupils in their studies.

The Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai football field

Through a partnership with Total Solar Distributed Generation Middle East, the campus has also been designed to use solar energy to further enhance its sustainability initiatives. A rooftop and carpark solar installation will be constructed by Enerwhere and is expected to produce around 1.4 GWh per year.

Additionally, this will result in positive environmental impacts by reducing the facility’s carbon emissions by approximately 629 metric tons per year.

The Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai football field

Clare Turnbull, Principal at the Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai, comments: “From the earliest stage of working with Bogle Architects, our ambition has been to ensure that the design of our wonderful new school aligns with and supports our distinctive approach to teaching and learning.

She added that the school's innovative UK Curriculum features an array of experiences and activities including in music, languages and sport, so it is critical that every aspect of their facilities complements the genuine breadth of what they offer and is designed with the individual learner and their wellbeing in mind.

Clare Turnbull continues: "We are proud that this ambition has run through every aspect of the design and construction as well as how we are fitting out the many specialist spaces in the school. There is a great sense of flexibility and freedom throughout the school in order to enhance the way pupils learn and collaborate. At the same time, we have put an emphasis on natural materials and extensive greenery, which we know from research enhances the way children feel in and about school.”

The Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai

Another feature of the design by Bogle Architects was to reinforce the Dubai school’s strong links with its parent school in the UK. Among the visual references that honour the school’s 500-year history is the central atrium. In a modern interpretation of the original school’s historic courtyard, this open and dynamic space encourages interaction, enjoyment and wellness for pupils and teachers and also includes an extensive parent café.

Similarly, the design of the large environmental canopy, echoes the diamond structural motif the leaded windows of the historic chained library in the parent school.

Ian Bogle, Founder, Bogle Architects adds: “This is our first project in the UAE and the environmental challenges were clear from day one, so we wanted to make the building as passive as possible. This is where the stepping structure offered a solution for self-shading but also created an internal hierarchy for the distribution of children over the height of the building.

The largest spaces at the top for the older children and the more intimate on the lowest floor for the younger children. We are delighted that the project is developing and have really enjoyed working closely with the Royal Grammar School Guildford Leadership team in creating what will be a fantastic addition to the heritage of the school.”

RGS Guildford Dubai will open in September 2021, subject to KHDA approval and completion of construction on at the campus in Tilal Al Ghaf.

The Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai
Sponsored by
The Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai
The Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai (RGS Guildford Dubai) welcomed its first pupils in September 2021. The Dubai campus is designed for boys and girls aged 3 to 18. The school will embody the ethos and values that have underpinned the Royal Grammar School Guildford in the UK for over 500 years. These, combined with a spirit of innovation and development, will prepare pupils for the challenges of the 21st and 22nd centuries. RGS Guildford Dubai leads by example, stay true to their values, innovate, collaborate and strive to be the very best they can be.

Tilal Al Ghaf Dubai, United Arab Emirates