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.
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.