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Kingsdale Foundation School – Challenging Convention

Kingsdale Foundation School has been a fixture in the London borough of Dulwich since it opened its doors in 1958.  Designed by architect Leslie Martin, the original Kingsdale Foundation School buildings held strong for fifty years.  By the end of the 1990s the ravages of time, and of continual use by demanding students had taken its toll, and the Kingsdale Foundation School infrastructure was creaking. This was a problem that had to be addressed.

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolIn the early 2000s, he led Kingsdale Foundation School into a dramatic period of redevelopment under the government’s Building Schools for the Future programme.  Kingsdale Foundation School was the pilot project for the programme.  This meant that it carried the risk of uncertainty of success, but also the benefit of having a blank canvas from which the architects dRMM could work.  There was no model of redevelopment for Kingsdale Foundation School to follow.  The designs at Kingsdale Foundation School would be the ones to set the tone for the future.  It was an exciting time.

The aims of the redevelopment initiative were not only to build a great new school on the Kingsdale Foundation School site, but also to ensure that the design selected would actively contribute to the creation of a stimulating and nurturing learning environment for Kingsdale Foundation School students.  It had been recognised that the built environment could have a significant impact on the way in which children learn, and on their behaviour.  At the time of the redevelopment, Kingsdale Foundation School was busy redefining its standards of behaviour and striving to improve its academic performance. The old buildings were working counter to that effort, and it was hoped that the new designs would change that.

Architects dRMM created a new design for Kingsdale Foundation School that captured the very essence of the old Kingsdale Foundation School.  This blended seamlessly with bright, open new elements that lifted the atmosphere within Kingsdale Foundation School and created an environment that is wholly positive. The major part of this transformation was in the construction of an impressive transparent roof structure that spans the previously open quadrangle between the main Kingsdale Foundation School buildings.

This new covered atrium has revitalised the old, dark structure, and opened it up to make the heart of Kingsdale Foundation School a light communal space that simply invites respectful communication and collaboration.  With its new buildings, and the continued hard work and dedication of staff, Kingsdale Foundation School has transformed itself into a vibrant school that is now oversubscribed and truly fit for the 21st century.

Kingsdale Foundation School – David Cameron suitably impressed

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolIn May 2011, Kingsdale Foundation School received a surprise visit from a very special guest. Students and teachers had prepared themselves for a mystery visitor, but when British Prime Minister, David Cameron arrived many couldn’t believe their eyes. Mr Cameron was at Kingsdale Foundation School to see for himself the remarkable transformation the school had undergone academically. The Prime Minister described Kingsdale Foundation School as “brilliant” and commended the hard work of both staff and students alike.

The Prime Minister’s visit is a direct reflection of the turnaround that has occurred at Kingsdale Foundation School over the years. The school literally transformed in the space of ten years to the highly popular and over subscribed school it is today.

Kingsdale Foundation School today boasts excellent musical facilities and its state-of-the-art music block was officially opened in 2008 by British jazz legend Courtney Pine. The ceremony saw a plethora of musical entertainment and Mr Pine praised the school for investing in its students’ musical futures. He highlighted that no such facilities were available to him as a child and they would undoubtedly encourage pupils to excel musically. Kingsdale Foundation School was given special musical and drama status in 2005 and the new music block shows that it is living up to its commitment to provide students with the best facilities possible.

Kingsdale Foundation School’s remarkable turnaround saw it ranked as the most popular school in the Borough of Southwark in 2011 based on applications. With more than 7 students competing for its available places, Kingsdale Foundation School continues to be an extremely popular choice amongst parents and students. It currently admits pupils aged 11 to 19 and is classed as a mixed secondary school with ‘academy’ status. Its sixth form allows students to study for A levels in a range of subjects, as well as post-16 scholarships in mathematics and performing/creative arts.

Kingsdale Foundation School – Buildings with a Heart

School buildings are essentially designed for learning. Yet with students spending so mucKingsdale Foundation Schoolh time within their walls, the built environment also has a responsibility to provide a space that is supportive and inclusive. Kingsdale Foundation School is one school where this concept has been embraced wholeheartedly.

Based in Dulwich, south London, Kingsdale Foundation School attracts students from across the area, many from very deprived neighbourhoods. To have a learning environment that is bright and welcoming is important to the self-esteem of all children and Kingsdale Foundation School is like a beacon of light that guides its students through their educational experience.

Kingsdale Foundation School was constructed in the late 1950s, and for forty years the mid-twentieth century architecture served the Kingsdale Foundation School community well. Yet constant use by young people takes its toll on buildings, and by the turn of the century Kingsdale Foundation School was in desperate need of physical modernisation. The school agreed to take part in an innovative programme called School Works.

Run by the Architecture Foundation, the philosophy behind School Works is all about the significant impact that the physical, built environment can have on the learning experience of students.  Kingsdale Foundation School was a prime candidate for the programme, and innovative architects dRMM set about developing designs for Kingsdale Foundation School that would revitalise the educational space, and bring the school up-to-date.

At the centre of Kingsdale Foundation School is a quadrangle nestled between the U-shaped main buildings. It was a largely unused part of the original Kingsdale Foundation School grounds. dRMM opted to retain and modernise this part of the campus, and in a stroke of architectural genius designed an awe-inspiring roof structure to span the quadrangle and create an “internal” communal space. This design was a revelation, and the introduction of open, raised walkways helps to link the old with the new, and the new covered atrium has become the heart of Kingsdale Foundation School.

The centrepiece of this new communal space is an asymmetrical geodesic structure, built from timber, which houses a spacious auditorium. Its pleasing shape gives it a heart-like appearance, and when it pulses with the music of live student performances, or the amplified murmurings of the congregated Kingsdale Foundation School population, the auditorium truly represents the heart of Kingsdale Foundation School.

Students at Kingsdale Foundation School are fiercely proud of their campus. Respect for their environment is encouraged and displayed at every turn. Prior to the building works, Kingsdale Foundation School was a school in trouble. With the dedication of staff, sound new school policies, an injection of architectural magic, Kingsdale Foundation School is now a thriving educational environment that is in high demand.

Kingsdale Foundation School – A Model of Popularity

Kingsdale Foundation School is one of the most popular state secondary schools in the country. The proof of this is in the seven applications that are received for each single place on the Kingsdale Foundation School roll at intake time. Kingsdale Foundation School has a reputation for providing effective education in a supportive, nurturing and respectful environment. Children want to go there.  Parents want to send them there.

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolThose who are fortunate enough to secure a place at Kingsdale Foundation School understand the privilege that has been accorded them, and this recognition helps to maintain the exemplary levels of behaviour and focus at Kingsdale Foundation School. There is a sense of students actively wanting to do their best, both for themselves, and because of the chance they have been given to receive an education in the vibrant environment that is Kingsdale Foundation School.

Yet Kingsdale Foundation School is more than just an educational establishment. Kingsdale Foundation School is a community, both inside and outside the school gates. The passion for creating a dynamic learning environment at Kingsdale Foundation School filtered through every aspect of life at Kingsdale Foundation School. The result is a stimulating learning environment that is inclusive and supportive, and alive with hope and positivity.

Kingsdale Foundation School describes itself as “inspiring and progressive”, in the sense that it works tirelessly to build a sense of purpose into the world of learning and actively engages students and parents in the process. Kingsdale Foundation School does not give up on any student, ever.  This belief in, and respect for, the value that exists inside every child, helps individual students to be the very best they can be, in whatever way is most appropriate. As a result, students at Kingsdale Foundation School have a very high level of self-respect, and consideration for their school environment and the wider community too.

Kingsdale Foundation School has worked hard to achieve its current impressive reputation. Kingsdale Foundation School is justifiably proud of its transformation, and the popularity it now enjoys.

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.

Kingsdale Foundation School – Designed for Life

Kingsdale Foundation School is a secondary school in Dulwich, south London. It has academy status for its specialism in the Performing Arts, and is one of the most oversubscribed state schools in the UK. At least seven students apply for each available place every September. KKingsdale Foundation Schoolingsdale Foundation School is a bright and vibrant environment, one where students have respect for each other, and for the school itself. Kingsdale Foundation School students are a fortunate bunch, but this apparently idyllic picture of a calm, structured, learning environment where pupils thrive has been hard won, and this is one reason why Kingsdale Foundation School students are so fiercely proud.

When Kingsdale Foundation School first opened in 1959 it was considered to be ultra-modern.    Designed by a renowned architect of the day, Kingsdale Foundation School led the way in construction ideas for many schools of the time. 40 years on, in 1999, and the fabric of the site that housed Kingsdale Foundation School was beginning to fall apart. The original Kingsdale Foundation School buildings had done their job well, but as the needs of students evolved they became unfit for modern purposes, and the dark, narrow corridors were just no longer suitable.

Foundation School agreed to take part in a £30 million pilot scheme to totally revamp its infrastructure. More than just a redevelopment project, this School Works scheme run by the Architecture Foundation worked on the premise that learning success is directly linked to the quality of the built environment in which the education takes place. Kingsdale Foundation School received a new design that not only future-proofed it for continuing technological developments, but also provided an inspiring and uplifting workspace.

The success of this pilot project was quantifiably delivered at Kingsdale Foundation School through ongoing improvements in GCSE success rates, the virtual eradication of exclusions, and a significantly and exponential increase in demand for student places. Kingsdale Foundation School students gained more than just a new place to exist. They were the fortunate recipients of a physical school space that invites them to be the best they can be.

Kingsdale Foundation School welcomes students from a wide variety of social and cultural backgrounds. Kingsdale Foundation School promotes an active celebration of this diversity. Values of acceptance, mutual respect and a commitment to succeed in whatever way is most appropriate for each student are at the core of the Kingsdale Foundation School ethos, and are stimulated by the very space in which the students learn.

Kingsdale Foundation School – A Very Modern School

After the 1997 election, the then British government launched a scheme called “Building Schools for the Future” with the specific aim of refurbishing and replacing every single state secondary school in the country.  Kingsdale Foundation School is no stranger to this concept, as it was one of the first benefit from the government’s commitment. Kingsdale Foundation School is proof that the scheme did not necessarily mean demolition for schools. The regeneration that has taken place at Kingsdale Foundation School has illustrated in the most striking way just what can be achieved through the clever blending of old and new.

Redevelopment of the site at Kingsdale Foundation School became possible under the School Works scheme run by the Architecture Foundation. Its premise is that academic and personal growth can be enhanced, or hampered, by the surrounding physical environment. When Kingsdale Foundation School agreed to take part in the project it was in drastic need of physical modernisation. The buildings which were constructed in the late 1950s were crumbling and in decay, and the students of Kingsdale Foundation School were struggling to find a positive mindset in this gloomy physical environment.

Phase one of the Kingsdale Foundation School project run by architects dRMM reconfigured the central courtyard area around which the original main building was wrapped. Initially intended to act as a space for Kingsdale Foundation School students to congregate, the area was largely underused, as a design flaw meant that student circulation was directed elsewhere on the site in order to access other buildings. dRMM sought to incorporate this space into their new design, and succeeded in doing so with the introduction of a highly complex and state-of-the-art roof structure over the courtyard, effectively creating a new internal space for Kingsdale Foundation School to use.

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolThe success of this initial Phase sparked the commencement of Phase two. Kingsdale Foundation School was in need of a new music block and a new sports block. dRMM worked their design ‘magic’ once more with these two buildings, incorporating innovative shaping and construction methods into both. Kingsdale Foundation School now benefits from a sports block that is far more than the traditional “big shed”, which is often built to satisfy the dictates of Sports England. Kingsdale Foundation School sports block has been made into a Venturian decorated shed, which has a stunning twisted roof and a creative use of internal space to maximise its usability.

dRMM applied similar creative thought to the Kingsdale Foundation School music block, that includes a perforated envelope construction with glass-covered kidney-shaped openings that act as stunning roof lights on the high vertical surfaces of the building. These modern new buildings have helped to give Kingsdale Foundation School a new lease of life, and have played a key role in transforming the school into one of the most oversubscribed in London.

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.