30 May 2018

Case Study: Art and Design Building, Bedales School

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When John Badley established Bedales in 1893, one of its founding aims was to ‘foster individuality and encourage initiative and creativity’, by putting Arts & Crafts at the heart of a child’s development. 

 

The two-storey timber-clad building, by architect Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, continues this tradition today, with disciplines such as painting and fashion, industrial design and sculpture, woodwork, jewellery and ceramics now taught under one roof.

 

Clad in rough-sawn Siberian larch, Bedales’ Art & Design building is constructed around an ancient oak tree within a new court and central lawn. 

 

All circulation between studios and classrooms is external, across covered decks on both sides of the building that double as places to draw, paint, sculpt and relax. 

 

A latticed-timber screen shelters the entrance canopy and external walkway that the architects say creates "a welcoming gesture on approach to the building". 

 

On the upper floor, a series of interconnected north-lit art studios are used for teaching and independent study, while heavier duty craft-based design subjects are taught on the ground floor alongside jewellery and fashion design. 

 

Built using passive building principles, the building is oriented east-west to maximise natural daylighting and reduce the need for artificial lights. 

 

Keith Budge, Bedales School Headmaster, said: "Having benefitted from a high degree of internal and external consultation, our new Art and Design Building stands out as one of the finest buildings in our architecturally rich environment. It is a further reminder of the school's commitment to creating teaching spaces that are as beautiful as they are useful." 

 

A school fundraising campaign raised £1,157,000 towards the £4.5m Art & Design project, which opened its doors in 2016. Bedales’ Art & Design building has since scooped several prestigious awards, including the 2017 RIBA National Award.

 

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