Kingsdale School Transformation

The Architecture Foundation initiative ‘SchoolWorks’ asked how school buildings relate to school standards and affect the self-esteem, morale and pride of the school community, shaping the possibility of teaching a 21st century curriculum. This is a groundbreaking project with a number of firsts, including a new kind of social/education space.
The project was funded by the (then) DfES programme.The design exploits the potential of the existing building, superimposing a new roof over the internal courtyard, thereby offering new dining facilities, assembly and performance space, improved circulation, and social and house-based activities.Within this largest space ever created in a British school, learning goes beyond the curriculum and includes a music performance and cinema auditorium, a 1,200 student assembly area, and dining facilities cool enough to ‘chill’ in. Aerial walkways, bridge and stairs make new circulation connections.The project was characterised by collaboration – or participation – as we like to call it.
Designs were developed following a year-long consultation process. In 2002 dRMM won a M4I Demonstration Award for this process.Professional collaborations included working with Gordon Cowley on the asymmetric geodesic auditorium, while ‘useful art’ by Atelier van Lieshout provided internal ventilation services as large scale sculpture, the ‘Kingsdale Cannon’.“The multitude of stakeholders and the cross-fertilisation of different professionals…have combined to create some of the most special features of the project,” said Steve Morrison, Kingsdale School’s Head Teacher.


Photography © Alex de Rijke, Philip Marsh