Kingston School of Art unveils £29 million revamp

The refurbishment has transformed studios and workshop spaces

Kingston School of Art has reopened its Mill Street Building following a £29 million transformation of studios and workshop spaces.

The new look of the 1970s building was created by architects Haworth Tompkins to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and improve workshop and studio space while enhancing the environmental performance of the building. Construction was carried out by Overbury.

One of the new staircases in the Mill Street Building. Photo: Philip Vile

Renamed after the mills that had once occupied the site, the Mill Street Building is on course to achieve a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating for sustainability.

The upgrade has lead to a 52% reduction in carbon emissions. Weathered steel solar shading canopies will keep the studios cool in summer and improved insulation, including hi-tech glazing, will retain heat in the winter. Newly installed green roofs are intended to support biodiversity, and improve the appearance of the building for the local community.

The vision for KSA is to have all of our courses working together as a creative community

Interim dean of Kingston School of Art, Mandy Ure, said the development positions the faculty at the forefront of teaching and learning within the creative sector. “We wanted to improve the student experience and encourage interdisciplinary working – replicating the professional world our students will enter.”

“The spaces are very flexible, when students graduate they are going to have to work in a very agile manner, they are going to need their subject skills but they’re also going to require confidence in team working skills.

“The vision for KSA is to have all of our courses working together as a creative community. We want to have more activity cutting across different courses and faculties – still subject-specific, still imparting vital knowledge so that students can benefit much more from understanding how they will operate outside of university,” she added.

“We retained and amplified the best characteristics of the building whilst re-planning and retooling areas that required improvement,” Haworth Tompkins associate director Dan Tassell explained. “This allowed us to transform the building’s environmental performance and functionality without losing the relaxed art school character that supports the creative processes within.”

The Mill Street Building looks across to the university’s new landmark building, Town House which opened at the start of the 2019/20 academic year.

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