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 | Attracting Attention

May 10th 2011 was an auspicious day for Kingsdale Foundation School. They received a surprise visit from Prime Minister David Cameron.  After 10 years of hard work and dedication Kingsdale Foundation School had achieved what many considered impossible.  The visit by the Prime Minister was an acknowledgement from the very highest level, of what Kingsdale Foundation School has achieved.Kingsdale Foundation School

The Prime Minister was given a tour of Kingsdale Foundation School. The school buildings have undergone a major redevelopment programme during the 2000s as by 1998, the original 1958 structures had fallen into disrepair. When Kingsdale Foundation School was approached to take part in a pilot scheme run by the charity the Architectural Foundation they needed no second bidding. The project fell under its School Works programme, and worked with Kingsdale Foundation School to create a physical academic environment designed to stimulate and nurture success.

The construction of the new buildings at Kingsdale Foundation School was completed in two key phases. The first of cleverly incorporated the existing buildings in a vast covered communal space, reviving a little-used courtyard that had lain dormant between key Kingsdale Foundation School buildings. An innovative roof structure at Kingsdale Foundation School floods the area with light, and is carefully designed to adjust its transparency according to prevailing weather conditions. It makes a striking addition to the Southwark skyline, and ensures that Kingsdale Foundation School is very much part of the local community.

The second phase of works saw the creation of new sports and music buildings for Kingsdale Foundation School. Through the creative use of eco-friendly construction materials and methods, architects dRMM created award-winning structures across the Kingsdale Foundation School site that caused the establishment to sit up and take notice. Having this new building framework helped Kingsdale Foundation School to develop academically, and socially, resulting in a school that is in demand and has a fierce pride in its achievements.

Prime Minister David Cameron is not the only well-known figure to have visited Kingsdale Foundation School. In 2009, in a break from filming one of the Harry Potter films, actress Imelda Staunton dropped by. After viewing Kingsdale Foundation School and its impressive arts and music facilities, she engaged in a Q&A session with students, giving them ample opportunity to probe her with questions about her long and successful career. Inspiring stuff, and a further example of how far Kingsdale Foundation School has come, and the commitment of staff to creating a learning environment that is rich in experiences as it is in academic effort.

Kingsdale Foundation School | A Curriculum that moves with the times

When it first opened in 1959 the curriculum offered by Kingsdale Foundation School followed national guidelines that reflected the era. Subjects studied at the Kingsdale Foundation School of the early 1960s included the basic literacy elements of English and Maths, and many traditional subjects such as music, science, PE, geography and history. With many households still operating a traditional family unit at the time, further subjects in the Kingsdale Foundation School curriculum reflected this, including needlework and housecraft. Vocational studies were made available for older Kingsdale Foundation School students.

Reflecting changing times and a growing interest in travel, modern foreign languages already played an important role in the learning experience in the early days at Kingsdale Foundation School. The multicultural nature of the student intake at Kingsdale Foundation School will certainly have played a part in the willingness to explore these subjects, with many students coming from diverse ethnic backgrounds reflecting the wider London community.

Kingsdale Foundation School was also one of the first UK schools to add Russian to its curriculum, and some children participated in a six-country tour in the first few years following Kingsdale Foundation School’s inauguration. One Kingsdale Foundation School pupil was selected to be among 48 specially selected ambassadors for Britain by the Rhodes Educational Trust, and spent a month in Canada.

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolIn the science curriculum at the young Kingsdale Foundation School, physical dissection of small mammals played an important part in the learning experience, and under the careful guidance of art staff, Kingsdale Foundation School pupils experimented with pottery and silk-screen printing.  Engineering, metalwork and woodwork were key parts of the education system at Kingsdale Foundation School too.

By the late 1980’s, many of these more traditional subjects had been replaced at Kingsdale Foundation School by technology based subjects, to reflect the new world era of the microchip.  Throughout its life, however, one core set of subjects has remained unchanged at Kingsdale Foundation School. These are in the areas of the performing arts – music, dance, and drama.  Kingsdale Foundation School is known within its local community as a school with a strong record of achievement in these fields.

In addition to the basic curriculum, Kingsdale Foundation School has always seen the benefit of extra-curricular activities, and numerous clubs were on offer from the outset, including science, art, ballroom dancing and radio. This pattern continues today at Kingsdale Foundation School, with staff consistently giving freely their time to ensure that students continue to receive the very best that the UK education system has to offer.

Kingsdale Foundation School | A Music Department with the X-Factor

Since its inauguration in 1959, Kingsdale Foundation School has always had a soft spot for music. In the early years at Kingsdale Foundation School every student played an instrument, irrespective of ability. This passion for musical creativity remains alive at Kingsdale Foundation School today, where the vibrant music department provided every student with an opportunity to explore their talents.

In 2008, amidst great excitement, Kingsdale Foundation School officially opened its new music block. 2007 Urban Music Award winner and Jazz legend, Courtney Pine, was bestowed with the honour of opening Kingsdale Foundation School’s newest facility. Students then demonstrated why the investment was deserved, in a stunning concert laid on in the new school auditorium. Kingsdale Foundation School displayed its musical talKingsdale Foundation Schoolent in a diverse programme of entertainment that included an African drumming ensemble, jazz band, and an impressive steel band. Pine was suitably impressed by the energy of the Kingsdale Foundation School performers, and was moved to comment, “I think I have found a school for my three girls.”

Constructed as part of a wholesale redevelopment and upgrade of the Kingsdale Foundation School buildings in the early 2000s, the new music block boasts facilities that are the envy of many schools.  An on-site recording studio offers students at Kingsdale Foundation School the chance to take their music compositions to the next level. The Kingsdale Foundation School music facility also includes an impressive suite of networked Apple Mac computers, loaded with recording software, which allow students anywhere in the block to capture and record their music spontaneously.

There is no shortage of space in the new music block at Kingsdale Foundation School. It is equipped with seven practice rooms and a dedicated rehearsal room too, all in addition to the five classrooms.  Kingsdale Foundation School’s dedication to music and performance was rewarded in 2005, when it was given academy status with a specialism in the performing arts. In 2009, students from Kingsdale Foundation School visited Namibia to share their school band talents, and the many music ensembles nurtured by staff take part in regular performances to the school, and the wider community.

For Kingsdale Foundation School it is in part the music that played a major role in the latest. Positive recent Ofsted inspections reports speak for themselves, but have to shout loudly to be heard over the sound of music that is the soundtrack to life at Kingsdale Foundation School.

Kingsdale Foundation School | Generating Self-Respect

Kingsdale Foundation School is the academic home of more than 1500 lucky students aged 11-18.  Based in Dulwich, South London, the Kingsdale Foundation School can boast an amazing story of transformation.

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolPart of the change is as a result of the gloomy 1950s buildings receiving a £30 million facelift. This investment at Kingsdale Foundation School has created bright communal areas around the school, and removed the dark and dingy corridors that were not conducive to a positive learning environment. The whole atmosphere at Kingsdale Foundation School has changed and there is a sense of hope, self-belief and a deep respect for the school environment.

Kingsdale Foundation School has always worked on the basis that no student should be allowed to fail. The physical improvement at Kingsdale Foundation School has generated a sense of pride within the whole school community. Respect for the buildings, the staff, and for each other is now the norm at Kingsdale Foundation School.

Kingsdale Foundation School – A VIP Guest

There are more than 3000 secondary schools in England alone, catering for students through the age range of 11-18.  Kingsdale Foundation School is one such educational establishment. Kingsdale Foundation School shines out amongst the many for the repeated praise it has received for the educational transformation that it has experienced in the last 10 years.

Kingsdale Foundation School has not always enjoyed such enviable status. It is, in part, the complete transformation that Kingsdale Foundation School has undergone that helps it to stand out from the crowd. On 10th May 2011, this immense achievement was recognised at the highest possible level. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, made a visit to Kingsdale Foundation School and took time to tour the facilities and talk to staff and students.

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolThe Prime Minister was full of glowing praise for Kingsdale Foundation School and everything it has accomplished in the last decade. He was clearly impressed by Kingsdale Foundation School at every level, and this was reflected in his public comments following the visit.  His most notable remark was to declare that Kingsdale Foundation School is “brilliant”.

Naturally, the visit sparked lively debate and discussion throughout Kingsdale Foundation School.  Members of the teaching staff joined students as they enthusiastically lined the walkways, overlooking the stunning covered atrium that is the central communal area at the heart of Kingsdale Foundation School.  The Prime Minister was welcomed to Kingsdale Foundation School by the whole school community.

The Prime Minister was given an insight into life at Kingsdale Foundation School, chatting animatedly to students in a Food Technology lesson before pausing to speak to the waiting  Kingsdale Foundation School students in the atrium, engaging in direct discussions with many of them.

A visit from the Prime Minister to Kingsdale Foundation School is an acknowledgement that the changes it has undergone have been recognised as a great success. The confidence shown by numerous official bodies in Kingsdale Foundation School is testament to the hard work, tenacity, and dedication of the Kingsdale Foundation School staff, and the desire of its students to succeed. These qualities are ones which will assist the young people passing through the Kingsdale Foundation School educational experience in every area of their adult lives to come.

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.