Architecture: Building touched with emotion

Posted on 14th July 2017

In a recent blog post for the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), Keith Budge celebrates the new Bedales Art & Design building being named as one of 49 finalists in the national round of the RIBA awards, and reflects on the enduring importance of environment to the school’s educational mission.

Bedales is one of four independent schools to be named as finalists, accompanied by Chetham’s School of Music (auditorium), King’s School, Wimbledon (teaching accommodation) and Wells Cathedral School (music facilities). Keith comments: “Schools like ours are lucky to be able to create such places, and we might reflect upon the importance of inspiring teaching and learning spaces in shaping creative young minds. At a time when the squeeze on spending in the secondary maintained sector is marginalising the Arts yet further, it is salutary that three of the four school buildings named in RIBA’s top tier are investments in the Arts.”

A guiding principle for the completion of the new Art & Design building was that it should influence the lives of young people across both the maintained and independent sectors. The potential impact is elevated further when considered alongside that of Outdoor Work at Bedales. Keith explains: “Indeed, this new facility can be made to count as part of a national drive to help government recognise that importance of Art, Design, making and the inter-disciplinary thinking that is the foundation for the UK’s fast growing creative industries.” 

Taking a wider view, the school’s founder, John Badley, saw environment as critical to mental, spiritual and bodily growth – not only material surroundings and the opportunities they offer, but also personal contacts and intellectual and cultural influences. Keith concludes: Reading his words now, about the importance of places, culture and conversation, I feel both a sense of the courage of his early vision and the responsibility - the importance of his successors doing our bit to live up to that aspiration.”

HMC blog | RIBA National Awards | Keith's headmaster's blog