The Royal College of Art’s (RCA) expansion for its Battersea campus in south London has been greenlighted by the local council, paving the way for a new RCA base dedicated to so-called Steam subjects (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics).
The move reflects how the 181-year-old postgraduate art and design institution is evolving into a specialist science institution, encompassing topics such as artificial intelligence, wearable technology, robotics and drone technology. Arts and humanities programmes in sculpture and contemporary art practice, and design programmes incorporating fashion and textiles and the Innovation Design Engineering course— delivered jointly with Imperial College London—will also be offered.
Wandsworth council has given planning permission for the new building designed by the high-profile Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron who transformed the Bankside power station into Tate Modern. Ascan Mergenthaler, the senior partner at Herzog & de Meuron, says that the Battersea campus expansion reflects the RCA’s “entrepreneurialism at the intersection of science and the arts”. Workshops will be the nucleus of the college, he adds.
The new venue is scheduled for completion by April 2020, with students expected to enrol for 2020/2021. Start-up businesses will also be located at the new base.
The Battersea development will cost around £108m; the UK government has pledged £54m. “The remaining funds will be secured through a mix of philanthropic donations, and RCA investment,” says a statement.