The Royal College of Art has launched GenerationRCA, its five-year plan that will include a new Battersea development and refurbishment of its historic site in Kensington, plus changes to the ways in which the university teaches and researches its academic programmes.

The plans are split into three strands, including ‘GenerationRCA: Places‘ which is focused on transforming the RCA’s various campuses. First up is a new building located opposite its existing Battersea campus which has been designed by Tate Modern architects Herzog & de Meuron and will provide 16,000 square metres of studios, workshops, labs and research centres.

Work has already begun on the new building which is expected to be completed and ready to use by autumn 2021.

The RCA will also redevelop its Grade II-listed Darwin Building located in Kensington. Originally opened in 1961 and designed by Sir Hugh Casson, H.T. Cadbury-Brown and Robert Goodden, the building is positioned next to the Victoria and Albert Museum, Imperial College, and the Royal Albert Hall.

It currently houses the School of Architecture programmes in Architecture and Interior Design, as well as the School of Design programmes.

The second element of the plans is ‘GenerationRCA: Projects‘, which the RCA says will “transform the accepted paradigm of an art and design university”. This includes introducing various scientific disciplines into the mix of creative disciplines traditionally offered by an art college.

The RCA has announced it will offer courses in environmental architecture and digital direction, with future programmes on nano and soft robotics, computer science and machine learning, materials science and the circular economy.

Finally, ‘GenerationRCA: People‘ is a new scholarship endowment fund, which is aimed at ensuring that students, irrespective of their financial circumstances, are still able to study at the RCA.

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 RCA has received £54m in one-off funding from the government to help fund its new strategy, with the money coming from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and HM Treasury. It has also raised 70% of its philanthropic goal for the Battersea campus, thanks to a £15 million gift from the Sigrid Rausing Trust.

Explaining the gift, Dr Sigrid Rausing said: “The Royal College of Art has an impressive record of teaching, innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration, with ambitious plans for the future. I am delighted to make this gift, which will help the College build the infrastructure it needs to enable a new generation of students to develop creative ideas and concepts within the public sector.”

1. The new RCA Battersea Building. © Herzog & de Meuron
2. The new RCA Battersea Building, Fashion Studios. © Herzog & de Meuron
3. RCA Darwin Building, Kensington
4. Without Politeness, Taeyoung Choi
5. Students working at the Royal College of Art
6. The new RCA Battersea Building, the-research-tower. © Herzog & de Meuron

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