Royal College of Art unveils new Herzog & de Meuron campus upgrade
The Royal College of Art, the world’s largest art and design university, unveiled its new campus in Battersea, London on May 23, 2022, the largest campus development in its history. The £135 million campus is designed by internationally renowned architects, Herzog & de Meuron.
“The Royal College of Art is a unique institution, rightly revered around the world for the excellence of its higher education in art and design. The dynamic created by this new building is remarkable. Our work environments have a powerful influence on how we create and collaborate, and I’m so excited for this new chapter in college life and the inspiring work its graduates will bring to the world. – Sir Jony Ive, Chancellor, Royal College of Art
RCA continues to reach out to its local community
The expansion marks a critical point in RCA’s transformation into a vibrant, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math)-focused postgraduate university that spans computer science and materials science, robotics, advanced manufacturing, complex visualization and data science, and mobility intelligence, enabling its students to tackle some of the most pressing challenges of our time.
Following an unprecedented £54m grant from Her Majesty’s Treasury announced in the Chancellor’s Spring 2016 Budget, matching funding was led by a £15m donation from the Sigrid Rausing Trust , as well as support from other national and international philanthropists and industry partners
The new campus will transform the RCA with the following facilities. Four floors of studios and workshops – for sculpture (hosted in the Linbury Sculpture Studio) and contemporary art practice (hosted in the Spiegel Design Studio), moving image (video and film) and the design school. Designed as social and educational spaces for creative transfer and collaboration, the workshops will also host temporary exhibitions and large-scale works.
The Hangar – a 350m² double-height multi-purpose activity space at the heart of the campus, with expansive doors at each end to accommodate the installation of heavy, large or complex artwork.
Robotics Hangar – a smaller hangar and gallery offering test and research assembly areas for smart mobility, design engineering, sculpting and robotics, with aerial and aquatic robotics.
Rausing Research & Innovation Building – eight floors of independent, confidential research space dedicated to areas including materials science, soft robotics, advanced manufacturing, smart mobility, and AR and VR visualization, housed in the Snap VisualizationLab.
The Helen Hamlyn Center for Design – a purpose-built new home for the Helen Hamlyn Center for Design, which undertakes research and design projects with industry that help improve people’s lives. The Design Age Institute now adjoins the Centre.
InnovationRCA – housed in the Clore Innovation Center – is RCA’s center for enterprise, entrepreneurship, incubation and business support.
Seminar and Conference Room – the top floor of the Rausing Research & Innovation Building housing a new Seminar and Conference Room for use by the College and external partners.
The new development will ensure that RCA continues to reach out to its local community. Public walkways intersect the site, referencing the original Victorian street grid of this area of London. RCA’s close neighbors include the headquarters of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and architects Foster & Partners.
The interior design of the new campus celebrates the iconic designs of RCA alumni and staff, bringing together furnishings and fittings selected for their approach to sustainable manufacturing and energy efficiency, concepts that are central to the new development. The building has been certified BREEAM excellent following a £3 million investment, using a combination of integrated design and above all a commitment to low and zero carbon technologies.
To coincide with the launch, RCA announced a new five-year strategy for 2022-2027 that sets out its ambition to use interdisciplinary thinking to solve global problems, while continuing to attract faculty, students, artists, designers and supporters . Key initiatives include:
Bring new perspectives and leadership on four challenges of the 21st century: mobility and urban planning; climate crisis and circular economy; aging populations and inclusion; Design and AI
A new MA structure, new flexible learning models and new qualifications, including MA units in Design Robotics and Gaming
Double the percentage of Black British students and researchers and people of color from underrepresented backgrounds through increased scholarships and student support funds
To provide a pipeline of new start-ups into the UK economy, supporting an additional 20 start-ups per year through InnovationRCA, backed by a new £3m design and impact fund.
Dr Paul Thompson, Vice-Chancellor of the Royal College of Art, said: “This magnificent new building embodies everything that is best and most vital at RCA: open, collaborative, interdisciplinary and bold. We are exceptionally grateful to the support of HM Treasury for helping RCA achieve its ambition to bring together creativity, technology, fine art and innovation under one roof and these new facilities will ensure the next generation of designers, d arists and creative entrepreneurs have every possible chance to envision a better future for people and the planet.
Herzog & de Meuron, said: “The RCA Battersea campus is designed as a porous and flexible ‘territory’ of platforms where the varied needs of the RCA program are given space to change and grow, enabling the transformation of the space as needed during this process. The studio and research buildings are designed as communities in their own right – a place that encourages interaction 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 neighborhood and the city at large.
Sir Peter Bazalgette, President and Pro-Chancellor of RCA, added: “I have been delighted to take over the chairmanship of RCA’s governing body in 2022 at this incredible moment in the College’s 185-year history: its greatest project. construction ever before and certainly one that will see us supporting many future generations of artists and designers. I must thank my fellow Board members for the many hours of guidance and support they provided to the ARC leadership team. In particular, I would like to thank my predecessor, Baroness Rebuck, for her assistance and leadership on the Battersea South project, and for ensuring that RCA’s ambitious vision became a reality.