Monthly Archives: August 2013

Architect Alex de Rijke explains how Kingsdale Foundation School was transformed | Kingsdale Foundation School

Alex de Rijke, a well-known architect who worked with a number of other designers on the extensive refurbishment of Kingsdale Foundation School, was recently interviewed regarding his participation in this project. When asked why he and his team chose not to demolish the old buildings at Kingsdale Foundation School, and instead remodel them, Alex explained that this decision was made not only due to the constraints of their budget, but also because they felt that demolishing these structures would be like getting rid of a piece of history.

Rather than erasing the past, Alex explained, they wanted the project to focus on the evolution and development of Kingsdale Foundation School. He added that he considered the existing buildings of Kingsdale Foundation School, which were originally designed by the architect Leslie Martin, to be an unfinished, modernist work of art, which simply needed to be completed. The team of architects and designers spent close to a year planning the remodelling of Kingsdale Foundation School.

Kingsdale Foundation School

They decided to eliminate the transverse block in the courtyard of Kingsdale Foundation School, as they felt that this simply took up space and did not serve any functional purpose. In addition to this, they installed an enormous, clear coloured atrium which has a translucent roof, and this helped to add light and a sense of spaciousness to the previously cramped, dark dining area in Kingsdale Foundation School. This roof allows plenty of natural light into the space, but still protects the students from the rain and wind.

The Kingsdale Foundation School atrium also has a green resin floor; which is extremely durable – as well as concrete planters. The decor of Kingsdale Foundation School is modern, and has a serene quality to it which seems to be having a positive impact on the students; as since the project was finished, bullying incidents have been dramatically reduced.

However, it is the aforementioned roof in Kingsdale Foundation School which has gotten the most attention from the media; as it is the largest one of its kind ever created, and was made using the same materials that the Eden Project used to create their specialist greenhouses. The roof comes with what Alex describes as a ‘double skin’, that changes automatically, depending on how strong the sun happens to be on any given day, so that more light can be shed on the atrium on cloudy days, and less light when the day is a big brighter. Essentially, this atrium at Kingsdale Foundation Schoolserves as both an internal and an external space.

How Kingsdale Foundation School was returned to its former glory

Kingsdale Foundation School first opened its doors to students in the year 1957, during the public sector building boom. Leslie Martin was the architect behind it; at the time, he was the architecture department’s director at the Greater London Council. When his finished designed was unveiled, it was praised for its modern look. However, four decades later, Kingsdale Foundation School had fallen from glory; it was showing signs of deterioration, both academically and architecturally, and was in desperate need of a change.

School-works was the initiative which would eventually help to transform Kingsdale Foundation School. This project was set up by the Architecture Foundation, who wanted to see whether or not a renovation of the buildings at Kingsdale Foundation School could have an effect on students ‘self esteem and their academic performance, as well as the overall morale of the student body as a whole. The initial funding for the renovation of Kingsdale Foundation School came from the DFES, although the first phase was such a success that further funding was then provided by the local council, and other organisations, to complete more work.

The design which the architects came up with exploited the original buildings at Kingsdale Foundation School – they decided that rather than demolish the older sections, they would refurbish them and bring them into the 21st century. For example, new performance and assembly spaces were added to the auditorium area of Kingsdale Foundation School, and new dining facilities, as well as a large, translucent roof were installed in the internal courtyard. The changes made to Kingsdale Foundation School mean that learning can now beyond the standard curriculum, as students can make use of the music hall, with its recording studio, and the stage area in the auditorium, for dance and performance. Even the corridors at Kingsdale Foundation School have been given a refreshing makeover, with new stairs, ‘bridges’ and aerial walkways added.

The designers and architects spent a year consulting, planning and collaborating before the work began at Kingsdale Foundation School, and many specialist engineers and artists were brought in to help with the final creations. For instance Gordon Cowley helped with the design of the geodesic, asymmetric auditorium, and the ‘useful art’ installation was provided by Atelier van Lieshout.