Posted Tuesday 15 September 2020
Kingston University will be throwing open its doors in the virtual realm as part of Open House 2020 - a festival celebrating London's most striking architecture. The annual event sees boroughs open up dozens of iconic buildings and hidden gems for the public to explore and learn more about their history and significance in their local communities.
The University's flagship Town House building and Kingston School of Art's newly renovated Mill Street Building at Knights Park will be showcased through free virtual tours during the event on 19 and 20 September.
Both buildings are among this year's finalists for the Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) annual awards for the London region and are shortlisted in the New London Awards 2020, in association with the Mayor of London.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier, who is also an academic expert in architecture, said: "We have completed work on two remarkable buildings for our students, staff and the community during the past year and are looking forward to celebrating the incredible investment we have made in the quality of our estate and teaching and learning environment during Open House."
Designed by RIBA Gold Medal-winning firm Grafton Architects, the multi-million pound Town House in Penrhyn Road is transforming the learning experience for students and acts as a gateway to the University for residents and businesses.
Visitors joining the virtual Open House tour - led by project manager and architect Gary Young - will take a sneak peek at the three-floor library, dance studios, studio theatre, and a courtyard in the centre. They'll be led up the open staircase that weaves through the building, right up to the sixth-floor rooftop garden that offers stunning views across Kingston.
"Town House is an innovative building that provides an welcoming place to be on campus for students and opens up the University to the wider community," Professor Spier said.
"It has a real presence in the borough and softens the threshold between us and the borough, allowing far greater opportunities for collaboration between the University, local residents and businesses."
Re-designed by award-winning architects Haworth Tompkins, the Mill Street Building at the University's Knights Park campus has transformed workshops and studios for the next generation of designers, photographers and architects at Kingston School of Art.
The exterior of the building, named in honour of the mills that previously occupied the site on Hogsmill riverside, has been enhanced as part of the £29 million regeneration.
Now, as part of Open House, visitors will be invited behind the scenes at the Art School, which retained its place as number one in the UK for art and crafts in the latest Guardian University Guide league tables.
Professor of Architecture Andrew Clancy will be leading the virtual tour at Knights Park. "Built in 1975 for art and design purposes, the Mill Street Building is at the heart of the campus and very much a part of the urban landscape in Kingston," Professor Clancy said.
"The ambitious redesign has created a more sustainable structure for the future and enabled us to refurbish and re-organise our existing workshops, which were already recognised as world class," Professor Clancy said. "We look forward to opening these state of the art facilities for everyone with an interest in architecture or art and design education to see."
The University is working in partnership with the Royal Borough of Kingston for Open House. The Open House building tours form part of a varied programme of virtual talks and self-guided walks taking place during the Kingston Heritage Festival, which runs from 11-20 September.
Kingston University's Dorich House Museum - a striking 1930s house designed by the important sculptor and artist Dora Gordine to be her home and studio, will also be part of the Open House programme. Art and architecture aficionados will have the chance to find out more about her and the museum, which holds the largest collection of her work.