A two-storey barn at Bedales will create an open courtyard around an existing large oak tree, which will be at its heart. The new building will be the home for all the art and design disciplines taught at Bedales – painting, fashion, industrial design, sculpture, woodwork, jewellery, ceramics, print-making and drawing. These will all be studied in one integrated building which will enable students to develop their creative skills and talents.
Students from the senior school joined those from Bedales prep (Dunhurst) and pre-prep (Dunannie) to help cut the first turf in a ceremony held last month. They were ably assisted by chair of governors Matthew Rice, headmaster Keith Budge, Dunhurst head Jane Grubb and Dunannie head Jo Webbern.
Keith Budge said: “This is a milestone in the schools’ history, and comes the same week that we celebrate the birth of our founder 150 years ago. The visionary John Badley established the school in 1893 to be a humane alternative to the authoritarian regimes typical of late-Victorian public schools. I think he would have approved of our commitment to evolve and improve the school, leaving behind the very tired temporary buildings constructed 40 years ago in which art and design are currently taught and moving to a purpose-built creative hub. This new building and our first-class teaching will be a powerful combination.”
Representatives from design architects, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, and Guildford-based construction company Beard were also present.
Architect Tom Jarman said: “We have thoroughly enjoyed working closely with the Bedales community on the design of this building. Students should be really proud of the part they have played in the process and I hope the building will make an exciting contribution to the inspiring environment they enjoy at this unique school.”
Nick Andrews, site manager for Beard, added: “We are delighted to play our part in the creation of this impressive addition to the Bedales estate. The project will take 12 months to complete and following the installation of the art and design equipment, the doors will open for teaching in autumn 2016.”
A fundraising campaign to support the £3.5 million build cost is underway. A parent association party, an online art auction and student rock show are amongst the activities that have contributed so far. Part of the fundraising effort has also focused on raising funds for the school’s John Badley Foundation Bursary Scheme which provides 100 percent support for students to attend the school. Established in 2011, this scheme has already provided opportunities for a number of students to attend Bedales and Dunhurst and one of the early beneficiaries has progressed to study design at university.