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.