Monthly Archives: June 2013

Kingsdale Foundation School | Taking a look at the School Works project which transformed one Southwark school

School Works, an initiative developed by the Architecture Foundation, was created so as to determine whether or not there was a connection between the design of a school building and the learning standards, morale and behaviour of those attending it. In 1998, Kingsdale School, once a dilapidated comprehensive, was chosen as the prototype for this experiment.Kingsdale Foundation school

The designers and architects who were a part of this initiative wanted to radically recycle, rather than replace, the school campus and it was this decision which transformed Kingsdale Foundation School. The re-design of the building, along with the changes made in the management of the school, resulted in sustainable, fundamental improvements to both academic performance and behavioural issues. Evidence of these changes can be seen in the official data  which show ongoing  improvements in exam results and outstanding behaviour and attendance.

The school building, constructed during the late fifties, was strategically redefined and edited, using one of the biggest ETFE roofs in the world. This transparent sheet which now covers the courtyard helped to create a ventilated and naturally lit space which is now home not only to a canteen, but also a geodesic, timber auditorium. Inside of the auditorium – or the ‘Pod’ as it is known-lies an integrated sculpture created by the artist Atelier Van Lieshout. The renovation project was carried out in phases, so as to make sure that the construction work did not intrude on student life too much.

The atrium was part of the first phase; following the positive reactions to it, the second phase was initiated. This involved the development of brand new music and sports buildings. These structures were made using timber panel, carbon negative construction materials. The designers who worked on them wanted to transform these somewhat generic, empty spaces into an expressive form of architecture which provided maximum flexibility and natural light.

‘Angular form’ was the theme for the music building; using just flat-packed timber, the design team managed to create an inspirational space which now features roof sculptures and innovative cladding detailing. The second phase was completed at the beginning of 2007. Such was the success of the project overall, that Kingsdale Foundation School  was featured on the Channel 4 series, The Secret Life of Buildings, which examined how our physical surroundings affect our feelings and our behaviour.

Kingsdale Foundation School | Dozens of schools around in England in dire need of renovation

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolIt is a sad fact that a huge number schools across the country are in desperate need of a re-design; it is hoped that a soon-to-be-announced school design competition will serve as inspiration for some much-needed changes to educational institutes around England. For decades, teachers, parents and students have been forced to make do with crumbling old classrooms, break rooms and offices.

Both students and staff members at dozens of schools have been complaining about the lack of hygiene and appropriate bathroom facilities for several years now, but in many cases, nothing has been done to address the problem. A survey which was recently carried out by staff members at a well-known UK university revealed that the bathrooms at said university were so badly designed and unhygienic, that two thirds of men and one third of women refused to use them.

Inspections of various schools around the country show that it is not merely the bathroom facilities which are in need of an update though – the results of these inspections show that the classrooms and staff break rooms are just as awful. Unfortunately, many schools have no other choice than to carry on and make do with the facilities they currently have. However, even schools that have the funding to make some changes are being criticised –experts from the Audit Commission have argued that the attempts made by certain schools to renovate their old buildings have been disappointing, and that the changes demonstrate a lack of vision.

There are however, a number of schools who seem to have hit the nail on the head when it comes to renovations. One example is Kingsdale Foundation School. This educational institute was, up until the early 2000s in a very different  state. The buildings were dark, dingy and poorly designed, and had not been properly renovated in decades.

However, more than twenty eight million pounds was raised and subsequently invested in the redesign of the Kingsdale Foundation School buildings. The results have been amazing, with Kingsdale Foundation School now being listed amongst the most improved schools in the country. Architects and designers helped to completely transform the buildings, adding more natural light and space to the once dark and narrow corridors and classrooms.  Kingsdale is now truly a school fir for the 21st Century.

Kingsdale Foundation School – Leading the Way In Building Innovation

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolOriginally constructed in 1957, Kingsdale Foundation School had long been a feature of the Southwark landscape. Functional but lack-lustre, the old Kingsdale School fulfilled a vital role in the local education system. The gauntlet was thrown down, and the challenge was met head-on by the school’s management team. Just 3 years later in 2004 an award-winning architectural design was completed and unveiled. In the ensuing years Kingsdale Foundation School has become one of the most oversubscribed state educational institutions.

This inspirational transformation is an example of how investment and a belief in the energy and desire of young people to learn can deliver the seemingly impossible. The initial phase of the reformation of Kingsdale Foundation School was all about the buildings. Architects and designers worked closely with the school’s management to create a space that maximises the student learning experience at every stage.

Using groundbreaking architectural constructs, the project at Kingsdale Foundation School exploited the potential of the existing buildings to help create the immense roof covering the vast internal courtyard. Instantly pulling together previously separate elements of the school, this design improved student circulation and social integration within Kingsdale Foundation School. The innovative light-weight roof construction provided the framework within which a new curriculum approach to learning could thrive.

Within this largest internal space ever created in a UK school, the possibilities to maximise learning opportunities have been embraced to the full by Kingsdale Foundation School. A creative timber-framed geodesic auditorium sits at the heart of the internal courtyard, and offers an excellent space for music and drama performances and assemblies. The new music facilities are state-of-the-art, with plentiful spaces for students to let their creativity run wild. An innovative music curriculum at Kingsdale Foundation School wholeheartedly encourages this approach, and is supported by an energetic permanent and peripatetic staff.

The collaboration and consultation process that formulated the designs for the project from the architects drMM resulted in them receiving an M4I Demonstration Award in 2002. drMM also received the Woods Award in the same year for the auditorium design at Kingsdale Foundation School. It didn’t end there, and the awards kept coming. The Royal Fine Art Commission awarded Kingsdale Foundation School its Building of the Year Award in 2005, and in 2008 architect drMM also received the World Architectural Festival Award in the Learning category. All this serves to demonstrate what an iconic and fresh approach to the structure of the education environment has been put in place at Kingsdale Foundation School.