Category Archives: Royal Fine Art Commission

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 – 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.

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