New RCA Building Makes Its Mark On North Battersea Skyline

When complete it will be the Royal College of Art's flagship

RCA Building in Battersea Skyline

The transformation of the Royal College of Art’s Wandsworth campus is almost complete. A new construction is being added to the existing Dyson, Woo and Sackler Buildings in North Battersea as part of a five-year, £108 million expansion.

The new structure has the appearance of two buildings – one on the site of the old petrol garage on Parkgate Road and one extending down from the Dyson Building on Battersea Bridge Road. The two buildings are linked to form an L shape behind the shops and restaurants at the junction of the two roads.

Howie street will be paved to cohere the different buildings into one campus.

The RCA has been rooted in Battersea for more than 25 years, and says it intends to contribute further to the area’s developing ‘cultural quarter’ with its new additions. The architect is Swiss-based German outfit Herzog & de Meuron, who also designed the Tate Modern Switch House and the now shelved proposals for Chelsea Football Club’s redevelopment in Fulham. On winning the RCA contract the architect declared: “We took our inspiration from the RCA ethos of experiment and making, to explore the possibilities of spatial organisation, and to test the physical expression of bringing together the worlds of science, art, design and technology under one roof.”

The RCA says the new flagship building is part of its “most exciting phase in our 181-year history, marking the College's transformation into a dynamic STEAM-focused postgraduate university (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics).

“As the world’s leading art and design university, the expansion of the Battersea Campus will enable the College to continue to compete globally and attract the highest calibre students and future entrepreneurs.”

The building will be the RCA's headquarters
The building will be the RCA's headquarters

The RCA - whose alumni includes Tracey Emin, David Hockney and Henry Moore – is ranked the number 1 university for art & design internationally, according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021, the largest world-wide survey of academic and industry opinion.

In 2016 the college was granted £54m in funding by the UK government to create a new building in Battersea, with the remaining funds being secured through a mix of philanthropic donations and RCA investment.

Planning permission was granted by Wandsworth Council in 2018 and construction – by Kier, one of the UK’s leading providers of construction and infrastructure services – got underway with a pre-Pandemic finish date of Summer 2020.

Features of the new 16,000 sqm building, parts of which have already emerged from behind scaffolding, will include: distinct areas for teaching, innovation and research; new research centres and increased support for small graduate start-up businesses through an expanded InnovationRCA incubator programme; and a double-height covered street hangar space for large-scale objects to be assembled and exhibited.

Features of the new building emerging from behind the scaffolding

The RCA says the project will also bring benefits to the local community with a new café and art materials shop, a public engagement programme, and improvements to the area of Radstock Street.

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March 16, 2021