Since its beginnings way back in 1837, London’s Royal College of Art has been home to some of the world’s most influential names in fashion, art, design and architecture – Tracey Emin, Jasper Morrison, and Thomas Heatherwick to name a few. Now, its home comes in the form of a new building designed by Herzog & de Meuron, which, after a £135 million (approximately $168,613,650 USD) construction, has been unveiled.
The project marks a major milestone in the university’s history and will see its course offering expanded into computer, material, and data sciences, robotics, and advanced manufacturing – enabling students to look beyond traditional creative practice to create solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues.
With this in mind, Herzog & de Meuron wanted to create a building that encouraged collaboration between students and staff across multiple disciplines. They said:
“The RCA campus in Battersea is conceived as a porous and flexible ‘territory’ of platforms upon which the varied needs of the RCA curriculum are given space to change and grow, enabling the transformation of space as needed during this process.
The studio and research buildings are designed as communities unto themselves – a place that encourages interactions between students, faculty and staff. Our intention is also to create a civic connector, encouraging circulation through the site and inviting exchange between members of the RCA community, the neighbourhood and wider city.”
The studios and workshops for sculpture, contemporary art practice, moving image, and the school of design are housed over four floors and will be able to accommodate temporary exhibitions and large-scale works. A huge space named “The Hangar” will allow for the installation of heavy, large, or complex works of art, while the smaller “Robotics Hangar” provides research testing and assembly areas for the courses exploring intelligent mobility, design engineering, sculpture, and robotics.
Eight floors of independent and confidential research space are located within the “Rausing Research & Innovation Building”, and a new purpose-built home for the “Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design”, will connect design research projects looking to improve people’s lives with industry.
A key part of the scheme prioritises the school’s connection with the surrounding public spaces and has seen walkways intersected throughout the site in reference to the original Victorian street grid of this quarter of London.
While London is home to a new campus for the Royal College of Art, in Silicon Valley, Google’s new self-designed home has been unveiled – featuring a “dragon scale” roof made of 90,000 solar panels.
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