BY TOBY PORTER
A university campus will be transformed into a flagship technology design centre under £108million plans submitted last week.
The Royal College of Art (RCA) has applied to Wandsworth council for the state-of-the art building for postgraduate students and entrepreneurs, which will have new studios, workshops and start-up business incubator units.
The redevelopment is intended to move the 180-year-old institution from a purely creative arts university to one which focuses on science, technology, engineering, art and maths.
The RCA wants to keep its place at the top of the world’s design colleges, after being named the world’s leading design and art university in March for a record third year in a row.
It beat Stanford, Yale and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the rankings. The project has been designed by Herzog and de Meuron, the architects behind Tate Modern’s Switch House extension, following an architectural competition.
It will sit alongside the RCA’s Dyson, Woo and Sackler Buildings.
The new building will house ten new programmes and the college’s expansion of research and knowledge exchange centres into the fields of computer and materials science, the impact of the digital economy, manufacturing and intelligent mobility.
These areas of research and learning will make the RCA critical to the UK economy and it has already attracted partnerships with world-leading businesses, including collaborations with the likes of Hyundai Kia and Burberry.
The RCA also wants to use the new building to strengthen its ties to its community with an events programme and Further Education courses.
The design of the new building incorporates a new café and art materials shop with improved routes through the site which will all be publicly accessible. Other public realm improvements are also proposed. Dr Paul Thompson, Vice Chancellor of the Royal College of Art said: “The RCA is committed to nurturing the next generation of creative entrepreneurs.
“Our new centre in Battersea will embody this vision, helping us to deliver transformational experiences for our students and ensuring that the UK continues to lead the world in art and design.
“Together with our neighbouring business, educational and cultural partners within the borough we will create a range of opportunities for our local community to get real benefit from what we can offer as a centre for postgraduate research and teaching in art and design.”
The RCA has consulted its neighbours on the proposals holding two public exhibitions and is committed to continuing dialogue with local residents and groups as the plans progress.