Category Archives: World Architecture Festival Awards

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 Sustainable Design for Long-term Educational Success

Kingsdale Foundation School was first constructed in 1958, using the traditional concrete block style that was common to the era. The buildings were considered to be a masterpiece of modern contemporary design at the time, and served Kingsdale Foundation School and its local community well for forty years. By the late 1990s, however, the fabric of Kingsdale Foundation School was looking tired. Increased pupil numbers were stretching the buildings to their limits of adequate functionality, and Kingsdale Foundation School students did not have a Kingsdale Foundation Schoolphysical environment fully conducive to learning.

During the same period, the Architecture Foundation was running a project called School Works, which applied the thinking that academic success could be affected by the physical structure of the learning environment. Kingsdale Foundation School was selected for a pilot project. The resulting investment in Kingsdale Foundation School delivered a transformation of the Kingsdale Foundation School buildings that gave the school the new lease of life it badly needed.

Architects dRMM, selected to design the new structure for Kingsdale Foundation School, created a space that combined the old buildings with state of the art construction technology. The Kingsdale Foundation School project took nearly a decade from conception to completion in 2008, but was more than worth the wait.

Key features of the new Kingsdale Foundation School design include a variable-skin roof enclosure made from ETFE, which covers the once external courtyard area between the original Kingsdale Foundation School main buildings. This is the first of its kind in the UK, and boasts special technical features to control the heating and cooling effects of the sun within the Kingsdale Foundation School building.

This significant nod in the direction of eco-friendly construction is amplified in further elements of the buildings works at Kingsdale Foundation School. The new music and sports buildings make extensive use of cross-laminated timber in their construction, reducing build time and limiting the amount of additional finishing work and materials required. Kingsdale Foundation School benefitted both in terms of speed of the construction, but also regarding the wider ecological impact of using sustainable materials, and the health benefits to Kingsdale Foundation School staff and students from being surrounded by natural materials wherever possible.

Another timber element to the Kingsdale Foundation School design was the geodesic timber-framed auditorium that is a focal point of the main covered courtyard. This delightful communal space is a hub where Kingsdale Foundation School members can congregate in a welcoming natural environment that is both uplifting and inspiring. Staff and students at Kingsdale Foundation School are intensely proud of their new environment, and academic performance has improved steadily as a result. The School Works pilot project at Kingsdale Foundation School has been a resounding success.

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.

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