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26th April, 2021

Kingston School of Art’s Mill Street Building wins BREEAM sustainability accolade with visionary renovation


A visionary renovation of Kingston School of Art’s Mill Street Building has won the 2021 BREEAM Award for the best Public Sector Project – Post Construction. 

The accolade recognises significant achievements in sustainable building design, development, and management, and is awarded by BREEAM, an international scheme that sets standards for the environmental performance of individual buildings.

Judges commented that they were “impressed with the take on overall wellbeing, as well as embracing the challenge of refurbishing an existing building. The efforts made on solar shading, biodiversity and accessibility were also highly rated”.

The project, which was completed in March 2020, retrofitted the original 1970s building at Kingston University’s Knights Park campus, upgrading and expanding facilities for students while improving environmental performance.

Designed by award-winning architects Haworth Tompkins with construction carried out by Overbury, the £29 million refit resulted in more than 9,000sqm of creative teaching, workshop, and studio space. Previously inaccessible areas were unlocked by the development which also saw a new entrance established and double height areas enabling students to work on large-scale projects.

The refurbishment incorporated designs with a focus on sustainability. The internal lay-out was reorganised to increase light to north-facing studios while solar shading canopies to the south keep studios cool in summer and improve insulation to trap the heat in winter.

Hi-tech glazing has improved insulation and the building’s heating and ventilation systems were completely replaced. Around 800sqm of green roofs encourage and support biodiversity while improving the appearance of the building for the local community.

These measures led to a reduction in carbon emissions by about 50 per cent. The Mill Street building is rated BREEAM Outstanding, the highest industry rating for assessing sustainability. Achieving such a high standard for a refurbishment project is extremely rare.

As well as improving sustainability, the renovation aimed to enhance the student experience and learning environment. State-of-the-art facilities include spacious workshops and professional grade studios with the latest high-tech equipment. Spaces such as film studios and photography dark rooms are situated in the centre of the building, while design studios are located at the building’s edges to make the most of natural light.

The building layout has also enabled Kingston School of Art students to benefit from interdisciplinary working, with students from diverse disciplines working together as a creative community.

The project transformed the environmental performance, functionality and design quality of the studios and workshops used by students, Connor Wilson, Kingston University’s Associated Director of Capital Projects, said.

“We are delighted that the Mill Street Building has won this major industry award which recognises its excellent record in sustainability. The renovation of the building incorporated measures to replace inefficient building services and vastly improve energy saving and the overall environment for students and staff.

“Together, this has contributed to signification reductions in carbon emissions for the University while delivering on-going energy cost savings. It has also created an amazing space for Kingston School of Art students to study and develop their creativity.”

Recently, Mill Street Building was also a regional finalist in the Civic Trust 2021 awards, which celebrate outstanding architecture and planning, and particularly recognise projects that have made a positive contribution to the communities they serve.

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