The campus is as unique as the school
The picturesque campus of RIC, an urban oasis in the heart of a designated conservation area, has been called Kent’s best-kept educational secret. It’s a very special learning environment that will quickly become a home from home.
The historically distinctive site with eye-catching listed buildings linked by award winning wildlife gardens creates a special sense of place to explore and in which to live, study and work.
True to their origins, the buildings and gardens feel more like a home than a school and students and teachers swiftly grow attached to their peaceful charm. The College occupies mostly Georgian, listed buildings carefully restored and enhanced by modern design features. Features of the site include a student allotment, outdoor classrooms and a comfortable garden shed for teaching award winning mathematics students that has attracted national newspaper attention.
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A Garden Campus
The campus provides a beautiful, safe and welcoming environment for our students with intricate architectural features and inspiring artistic installations around every corner. Every square foot is a learning opportunity. Underhill Hall is home to RIC Drama, exams, art shows and performances with seating capacity for 100 people. The copper canopied roof transforms into an open-air auditorium with productions from visiting theatre companies and students. Low voltage electrical installation and modern construction techniques combine to give the underground building a minimal carbon footprint.
Our gardens are recognised as a site of excellence by the Kent Wildlife Trust. Students have made bat and bird boxes to encourage biodiversity; completed research projects and delivered presentations to raise awareness of environmental issues among their peers; and have been involved in national projects such as the OPAL Air Survey. A large-scale outdoor classroom project has involved investment and partnership with Kent Wildlife Trust, and given students the opportunity to work with adults from external agencies and establish a project that will encourage wildlife, have long-term conservation value, and benefit current and future students at the College.
An interesting structure has been constructed from sustainable materials with the intention to create a shelter and ‘quiet place’ for students and staff. It has been conceived and painstakingly crafted by local artist and garden designer Simon Bernthal. The rounded shape is inspired by an oak gall, the common name for a large, round, apple-like growth commonly found on many species of oak created by gall wasps to enclose their developing lavae. The plan for the future is to cover the outside with crushed elderberries so that the whole form glows red. This thought provoking structure we hope will inspire and motivate interest and enjoyment from students and staff alike. Our gardens, this structure and our Art and Design end of year exhibition were open to the public as part of Medway Open Studios in July this year.
The gardens host our start of the year move in barbecue for boarders and the end of year summer festival for parents, students and friends of the College. Star Hill’s answer to Glastonbury and Latitude is an annual celebration of student artwork, music and performance.
Students appreciate their relationship with their environment and a calm and respectful atmosphere pervades. The grounds and garden, partly developed by the students, provide a valuable resource. The mood is relaxed and inclusive, enabling all to feel secure, develop their personalities and appreciate their role within the community. Students feel that there is little bullying or unkindness and attribute the happy atmosphere to the fact that ‘everyone knows everyone.
Musical gates and flying pigs
The long awaited unique Flying Pig Musical Gates designed by Faversham based sound sculptor and musician Henry Dagg opened to their own fanfare in 2018. The gates were conceived to complete the campus in a way that demonstrates RIC’s individuality and dynamism but also creates something beautiful and, more importantly, fun.
Their completion has been delayed while Dagg and his Sharpsichord travelled the world with Bjork on her Biophilia tour. World champion musical saw player Henry is well known for his quirky but stunning musical creations which he designs and engineers himself from scratch. He was nominated for a Kent Public Art Award for transforming his garden fence into a glockenspiel which was officially ‘opened’ by Evelyn Glenny. Henry is perhaps best known nationally for reducing Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall to tears of laughter with his performance on his Catastrophony at one of their eco-garden parties.
Richard Fleury, a local filmmaker has recorded the construction process and this is in itself part of the whole work of art. Music will be created from the gates with a combination of vibraphone effects, resonating strings and organ pipe-like tubes. Quirkily adorned with six porcine sculptures, cloverleaves, a mathematical equation known as Euler’s Relationship and a Middle English inscription, the gates are a landmark piece of public art that has educational value, not only to RIC but also to the wider community.
The former Dickens Hotel - the College’s twelfth Grade II listed building - on New Road has been remodelled and will open fully in September 2017 as a new halls of residence, offering thirty four high quality rooms. The new boarding facility will feature a refectory, common room, landscaped gardens, a small wood and a meadow. The building dates from c1840 and features a striking ground floor Tuscan Doric verandah of 8 columns. The recently acquired New Court at the top of Star Hill has also had a makeover, being transformed into a home for our award winning Film, Media and Visual Arts departments. State of the art fibre optics serve two new Apple Mac design labs and an IT based library