Category Archives: geodesic dome

Kingsdale Foundation School – Remarkable improvements

Kingsdale Foundation School attracts a large number of applications each year from potential students. This is due increasingly to its educational achievements and excellent reputation, including for the sixth form. Kingsdale Foundation School was originally opened in 1958 and teaches students aged from 11 to 19 years old. It is an independent ‘academy’ and its sixth form offers post-16 scholarships in choice subjects, as well as a larger range of A level courses. Located in Southwark, South London, Kingsdale Foundation School was ranked as one of the borough’s most popular school, based on number of applications in 2011.

Kingsdale Foundation School’s popularity hasn’t always been this way however and by the late 1990s it was in need of modernisation and investment.  Kingsdale Foundation Kingsdale Foundation SchoolSchool’s story of improvement has been reflected in the recent Ofsted reports with glowing praise regarding effectiveness and capacity for sustained improvement.

Kingsdale Foundation School has changed more than just its educational achievements however. A prototype project led by the company School Works has seen a drastic transformation in the school’s appearance. The former 50s style buildings did not provide a very bright, educational environment and today Kingsdale Foundation School is a much more inviting place to learn. De Rijke, Marsh and Morgan (DRMM) were the architects who undertook the project and they have left a real mark on the former dingy appearing school. The centrepiece of their work is a magnificent plastic polymer roof which covers the main courtyard and creates a bright, airy atrium. New corridors have also been added and the old, narrow corridors, which were previously windowless, are now lined with transparent walls. These improvements make Kingsdale Foundation School an excellent learning environment and the visit by British Prime Minister, David Cameron in May 2011 shows that the transformation it has undergone is highly recognised.

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.

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.

Space-Age School Building Project | Kingsdale Foundation School

Kingsdale Foundation School was the subject of an extensive, futuristic remodelling that could potentially alter the way we view educational buildings forever. The ground-breaking, award-winning project features the largest communal space in any UK school to date in the form of a geodesic dome, a new music block created in angular form in consideration of acoustic reverberation, and a sports hall that allows natural daylight without compromising on safety or playability.

The main auditorium is now in use as a multi-purpose space comprising of entry, circulation, dining, library and assembly areas. It has secondary use as a performance hall, film venue, presentation and meeting space and can comfortably seat three hundred people. Aerial walkways replace the traditional school corridors creating space for seating, providing sightlines and connecting staircases. This auditorium is currently the largest learning space in Britain and is used to encourage extra-curricular activity outside of the usual channels of learning.

Due to the use of computer-controlled cutting machines and materials giving a span to weight ratio of just 30kg/m² architects were able to superimpose the new EFTE ‘variable skin’ dome directly onto the existing super-structure without requirements for foundations. The materials used for the roof use integrated, automatic passive through-ventilation which mimics levels of solar activity and provides natural lighting throughout. Additional ventilation is implemented through ‘useful art’ sculptures. The auditorium provides a brand new focal heart for Kingsdale Foundation School, which was on the brink of demolition before the project was authorised. The brief for the auditorium and attached teaching accommodation was worked out through a lengthy and inclusive consultation process with all involved, especially the pupils.

The music block was created as a completely sustainable prefabricated construction project. Unique soundproof windows and the introverted character of the building make the acoustic reverberation ideal in a school that has long been noted for excellence in the music department.

The new sports hall moves away from the traditional ‘box’ dictated by the DfES and Sport England guidelines. The use of cross-laminated timber with factory quality finish enabled the architects to create a space that let in natural daylight without causing glare or other safety concerns.

Since construction the new build at Kingsdale Foundation School has won a series of architectural awards including the 2005 Building of the Year award presented by the Royal Fine Art Commission and the 2004 Wood Award for the auditorium. In 2008, the school was Highly Commended at the World Architecture Festival Awards in the Learning Category.

Kingsdale Foundation school