The Royal College of Art, the London-based art and design university, has announced that its new Battersea campus, designed by Swiss architecture practice Herzog & de Meuron, will open in autumn 2021. The announcement also revealed the 182-year-old institution's plans for the coming half decade, with the launch of GenerationRCA, an expansion of its academic vision to incorporate scientific disciplines into the creative programmes it already offers.
The Herzog & de Meuron-designed building will be a new flagship for the school, offering 16,000 sqm of studio, workshop and research space across two conjoined buildings. The building will house a double-height hangar space for presentations, large displays and performances and designs by RCA students. The school plans to include the local community via the numerous public walkways in the building's design and the inclusion of a cafe and art materials shop.
Funding for the new strategy and building comes in part through the the government funding of £54 million via the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and part through philanthropic contributions. incuding a £15 million gift from the Sigrid Rausing Trust, the largest donation in the college's history.
The academic focus of the RCA will evolve to incorporate new technological disciplines and ideas, including nano and soft robotics, computer science and machine learning, and materials science. Emphasising the focus on new disciplines and the digital world, Dr. Paul Thompson, Vice-Chancellor, RCA said: “The launch of GenerationRCA marks a real watershed in the Royal College of Art’s 182-year history. Founded in response to the first Industrial Revolution, today the RCA stands as the vanguard of a new era in art and design, which promises breakthroughs in robotics, autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence.”
The building will mark another major work by Herzog & de Meuron in London, with the firm's extension of the Tate Modern completed in 2016. The extension was designed to double gallery space in one of the world's most visited contemporary art museums - over 5.5 million people visited the Tate Modern in 2017.