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.
In 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.