RCA Battersea South Campus

Learn more about the concept proposals for the RCA's new building at Battersea

The Royal College of Art (RCA) has submitted proposals to Wandsworth Council for a £108 million state-of-the art building for postgraduate students and entrepreneurs, which will secure the RCA’s future in Battersea and deliver new studios, workshops and incubator units required to support its future growth.

This new flagship building is part of the RCA’s most exciting phase in its 180-year history marking its transformation into a dynamic STEAM-focused postgraduate university (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics). The RCA is the world’s leading Art and Design University and the expansion of the Battersea Campus will enable it to continue to compete globally and attract the highest calibre students and future entrepreneurs.

The project has been designed by Herzog & de Meuron, following an architectural competition. The new building will sit alongside the RCA’s existing Dyson, Woo and Sackler Buildings. It will facilitate the provision of 10 new programmes and the College’s expansion of its research and knowledge exchange   centres into the domains of computer and materials science, the impact of the digital economy, advanced manufacturing and intelligent mobility. These areas of research and learning are critical to the UK economy, and the RCA has already attracted partnerships with world-leading businesses, including collaborations with the likes of Hyundai and Burberry.

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. We are thrilled with how Herzog & de Meuron have responded to our brief to create our new centre in Battersea to 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.’

See our press release.

For more information about our Battersea site, read our Q&As:

Why is the RCA investing in a new building?
The RCA recognises that in order to maintain its global status and compete with other institutions it has to continue to attract the best calibre of students. It therefore has to offer new and innovative programmes, extend its research, increase its partnerships with industry and continue to offer world-class facilities.

The RCA therefore needs to extend opportunities for students to study at the College and to develop new areas of research and innovation, based on its world-leading expertise in art and design. This is supported by extending its estate at Battersea as it has outgrown its existing buildings and will soon be unable to meet the high demand for student places.

We want to stay in Battersea which has been our home for over 25 years and is fast becoming a new creative quarter, with Vivienne Westwood, Foster and Partners, and Simon Fuller all located nearby. The expansion of the College's facilities can further contribute to this cultural offer. 

What will the building look like?
The building is designed in two distinct parts, each with its own discrete function. The Studio Building is formed of a series of horizontal layers, providing a continuous strip window to maximise sunlight and create overhangs on the upper floors to provide shade. The ground floor is punctuated with large picture windows to enable passers-by to see into the activity inside and in places the brickwork becomes an open perforated pattern to provide natural ventilation. On Howie Street and Elcho Street, public seating is embedded into the ground floor design of the building, sheltered and lit from the upper floors. The roof has two north-facing mono-pitch roof lights to echo the existing RCA buildings.

The Research Building has two distinct aspects, with the lower floors made of brickwork to tie it to the Studio Building visually and the upper floors formed of vertical masonry solar shades. Each research space is separate to protect the privacy of the ongoing work which frequently involves external partner organisations and are accessed independently.

How will the new space be used by the RCA?
The existing buildings, including the College's Moving Image Studio and Sculpture Building, the BP petrol station and the two MOT garages will be demolished and replaced with a new campus building.  The new building has two distinct parts; workshops, studios and teaching space housed in one building which runs the length of Howie Street and is four storeys and a new eight storey research building on Parkgate Road, housing InnovationRCA and conference facilities.  Final decisions on where individual Schools will be housed will be made nearer to the completion of the building to allow the RCA to adapt to the specific needs of the College at the time and maintain a degree of flexibility.

Will the public be able to access events and exhibitions in the building?
The RCA is an academic building and is therefore not open to the public on a permanent basis, however a number of public programmes, talks and exhibitions are advertised publicly and are open to visitors from outside the College. Twice a year the College opens its doors for the Summer Show and Secret Show.

A new café and shop will be delivered as part of the building, which will be publically accessible in term times between 9am –6pm. The delivery of the new building and its exhibition spaces and café (open all year around 9am – 9pm) will also support more public engagement programmes and events. 

How is the project being funded?
The project is jointly funded by Government, philanthropic donations and the RCA. The investment by central government will have an estimated return to the UK economy of £8 for every £1 invested. 

How many students are there at the RCA currently and will this increase in the future?
The RCA currently has 1,800 students and is seeking to grow its student number to 3,000 over the next 4 years, to be split between its Kensington and Battersea sites.

How many staff are currently employed at the RCA now and will this increase as a result of the proposals?
The RCA currently employs more than 1,000 professional staff – including scholars, art and design practitioners, specialists, advisers and distinguished visitors. We expect that number to grow in relation and proportion to our increased student numbers.

What new programmes and research centres will the campus host?
With the ambition to introduce 10 new programmes, four new research centres and two new knowledge exchange labs, the overall intention is to shift the RCA’s focus to become a STEAM led university, focusing more on the interaction between art and mathematics and science. 

Are the new programmes scheduled to start once the building opens?
Some of the new programmes have already begun, and some will be introduced in the next couple of years

What will happen to the existing Schools housed on the site while you develop the site
Existing programmes in the School of Arts & Humanities will be relocated within the College’s existing campus, preserving proximities to essential services and technical workshop facilities.

Project timeline
Submission of proposals: late autumn 2017
Planning permission: anticipated early 2018
Work to prepare the site: spring 2018
Construction: summer 2018 – summer 2018
Fit-out: autumn 2020
Building open: 2020/21

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If you want to find out more about our proposals and receive updates, contact us below or sign up to our mailing list:
020 7871 3565

Public Consultation Cascade
26 Noel Street
London S1F 8GY

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