After a lengthy refurbishment, Kingston School of Art (KSA) will finally reopen its doors and is encouraging Kingstonians to come and see what all the fuss was about.

Kingston University (KU) announced they will stage a free Open House event at KSA this Saturday (February 8), with a plethora of activities and exhibits to explore.

Professional portraits, 3D head scanning and printing, book-binding, print making and a number of other art and design workshops will be made available to attendees at the KSA building, KU said.

Surrey Comet: 3D printing at the new KSA building3D printing at the new KSA building

Mandy Ure, interim Dean of Kingston School of Art, spoke with the Comet about why the open was a boon for residents interested in getting creative.

"We want to show the community what we get up to inside the building and to thank them very much for their patience.

"We've been undergoing two years of building work and have been attempting to minimize that, but residents have been fantastic.

"We want to show them round, let them ask questions and get them involved in the workshops," Ure told the Comet.

Describing the new space as "brilliant", the KSA dean went onto to describe the remarkable transformation the university's art building has undergone over the last two years:

"It's wonderful, just a fantastic place to be in. It feel vibrant, it's always busy, and there are quiet spaces in it where students can work as well as collaborative spaces too. Really a huge improvement," she said.

Surrey Comet: Image: KSA/KUImage: KSA/KU

On the open day itself the ground floor will exhibit some of the work KSA students have done, and doubles as a fundraiser for their degree shows in summer.

Meanwhile, the photography and film studios will open up to residents. KU are encouraging them to get creative with the help of technicians during the open day.

One of the more interesting aspects of the new KU space is that it actually offers a cross over between the arts and more science-based subjects like computing that the UK's academic tradition has often segregated.

In the "hackspace" area of the refurbished KSA, for example, attendees at the open day will get a chance to learn basic coding — fast becoming an essential skill in the 21st century digital world.

Surrey Comet: Photography studio at the new KSA building. Image: KSA/KUPhotography studio at the new KSA building. Image: KSA/KU

Other points of crossover include direct blending of Arts and Science disciplines with technologies like 3D printing.

"Students at KSA often cross over with others at other schools like Roehampton Vale. All of our studios are open access so after they've done their inductions they can go and use any of the facilities," regardless of their course type, Ure pointed out.

Evidently proud of her workplace and co-workers, Ure signalled that KU ranks 1st nationwide in the Guardian newspaper's league tables for Design and Crafts, and in the Top 10 for Art.

Perhaps even more impressively, Kingston University frequently ranks among the Top 10 worldwide for Fashion and Textiles.

The global climate crisis already pervades most every industry, including these, and the KSA refurbishment has not shied away from confronting it according it the interim Dean.

Compared to the previous KSA space, the new refurbishment boasts 52 per cent less CO2 consumption and an 800sqm "green roof" sheltering wildlife habitats and "sculptural solar shading canopies" that can harness the sun's energy.

At the root of all this, Ure said, is the value of art that she hopes the renewed KSA building can promote in Kingston.

"Art brings a vibrancy and diversity to any community it's in. We've been engaging a lot with creative youth and have a performance art community engagement group including drama and music students," she said.

"It brings events but it raises awareness too, about the benefits of arts and design to the community that they might not be aware of.

"They're entertaining but (bring) important education lessons that can feedback into the economy or the creative spirit in the community too."

The KSA Open House is running this Saturday 12.00pm-4.00pm at the KSA building on Knights Park, Grange Road, in Kingston, and is free to attend.