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.

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