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Royal College of Art expansion in Battersea cultural quarter

Royal College of Art Vice Chancellor Dr Paul Thompson talks (in the video above) about how Herzog & de Meuron's new design for the Battersea campus will both connect to the community and businesses, and act as an anchor for an emerging innovation district.

Vice Chancellor of the Royal College of Art, Dr Paul Thompson joined a discussion panel this month on creating and sustaining urban cultural hubs at our forum at Goldsmiths' Hall in the City of London. The RCA has hired the architecture practice, Herzog & de Meuron to design a multi-million pound building for the college in Battersea, where there are ambitions among different stakeholders to create a new cultural district.

While Paul remarked that 'we should feel proud as Londoners that almost every mile in London is a cultural mile' - referring to the Museum of London's role in the 'Cultural Mile' joining the Barbican to West Smithfield - he hoped that the RCA's £120 million expansion of its Battersea campus would bring tangible benefits to what has been mainly a residential area.

Paul went on to say that there is ' granularity around the RCA campus, where there is already an enclave of creative businesses, including Foster Associates, Vivienne Westwood , and Victoria Beckham as well as the Battersea Arts Centre nearby. There is tremendous energy and potential in this part of London'.

The RCA has also invested in White City in West London alongside Imperial College London, next to the revamped BBC Television Centre, where a thriving office and cultural place-making initiative has begun.

However, Paul commented during the discussion, that he remained very concerned about the costs of housing key workers for all the universities and institutes that make the capital such a powerful global magnet for research, creativity, innovation and teaching. 'With house prices so high how will all our professors be housed. Seventy per cent of our hires are from outside the UK, and it is difficult to predict how Brexit will affect us. Foreign students accessing the student loan-book is also a concern' he observed.

Meanwhile the RCA continues to push the boundaries of its curriculum introducing robotics and environmental architecture in a new five-year programme called Generation RCA.

Listen to Paul above describe how Swiss architecture practice Herzog & de Meuron convinced the RCA judging panel to hire them without showing any prospective building designs but recognising it should a 'factory for ideas' (street view below).

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