King's College London
King's College London was founded in 1829 by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington. It is ranked amongst the top universities in the world. Evolving over time, its main Strand Campus is an assemblage of disparate buildings and was without a clearly definable entrance. Visitors often missed the campus entrance and this prestigious university remained largely unnoticed by the general public.
Rather than apply conventional signs all along its 90-metre frontage, Atelier created an historical time frieze featuring King's associates, alumni and undergraduates. Using vinyl graphics applied to the glazing, the signing was brought down to eye level; the costs of signing hardware was much reduced, sensitive planning objections were circumnavigated, and King's had a changeable frieze that it could update and manage at a low cost.
The new frieze defines the full extent of the once 'lost' Strand Campus, uniting a concoction of different buildings and presenting a face of considerable achievement and pride.
Each of the eleven different building elevations along the Strand was meticulously recorded. Our final inventory listed a total of 217 different window panes — which meant 217 pieces of artwork. Despite the careful and painstaking preparations, this was not a dull project. How could it be, when our research uncovered such surprises as the Duke of Wellington fighting a duel in defence of King's honour, or Thomas Hardy enrolling on an evening course in modern languages (followed, incidentally, 124 years later by Rory Bremner)?
Play the animation; take a 90-metre walk along the Strand and experience the frieze for yourself.
A walk along the Strand can now be taken in the company of some of the giants of science, medicine, politics, and the arts; meet Desmond Tutu, Arthur C. Clarke, Florence Nightingale, Joseph Lister, John Keats, and Derek Jarman. Twelve Nobel Prize winners rub shoulders with undergraduates and their hopes for the future. This has become an entertaining place to people-watch; determined pedestrians hesitantly break stride when they meet George Carey in his mitre, and it seems an odd juxtaposition to see a student having lunch with Rosalind Franklin.
The Strand Campus continues to expand. It recently took over a large building on Kingsway to house its School of Arts & Humanities. While building work is progressing, Atelier reworked and updated the Strand alumni frieze to provide temporary site hoardings.
Play the animation; take a walk along Kingsway and experience the frieze for yourself.
This is a project that started with a brief to put King's on the map with conventional signs but ended with the university engaging with the public, encouraging future students to think about King's as their university option, and celebrating nearly 180 years of achievement.
Christine Ayre, Head of Corporate Design, King's College London