The 2017 RIBA Client of the Year has been awarded to Bedales School for their Art and Design Building. The annual award, supported by The Bloxham Charitable Trust, recognizes the key role that a good client plays in the creation of fine architecture.
Bedales School - a co-educational, independent school in the village of Steep in Hampshire - was nominated by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.
Since its foundation in 1893, Bedales has been committed to creating an architecturally rich educational environment. Their portfolio of commissions includes the boldly-engineered Grade I listed Memorial Library designed by Ernest Grimson in 1921, commemorating students who died in the First World War, and the Boy's Flat which was designed by RIBA Gold Medallist Sir Colin Stanfield Smith in 1994. The Art and Design Building is the second at Bedales to be designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, who were also commissioned in 1996 to build the school's RIBA Award-winning Olivier Theatre. By commissioning fine architecture, Bedales School demonstrates its ambition to educate, inspire and support future leaders in the creative industries.
"This relatively small building demonstrates the ability to deliver something of value with a constrained budget," commented Tom Bloxham MBE, Chair of the RIBA Client of the Year jury. "The students of Bedales were at the centre of the process from the outset; a Student Design Committee was established and had meaningful involvement from choosing the right practice to determining the use of the space, layout and details. Parents, students and Old Bedalians all delivered feedback on initial designs which were then adapted to maximise teaching space and ensure that the building was not only an impressive artefact from the outside, but a functional space for students to develop their creative talents. It's great to see an institution like a school putting so much energy and effort into its architecture, hopefully other schools and institutions can take inspiration."