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Alex de Rijke named new RCA head

Co-founder of dRMM Alex de Rijke has been named as the new head of architecture at the Royal College of Art (RCA)

The timber construction guru replaces Nigel Coates, who stepped down as head of the London school in May after 16 years in the role.

de Rijke is a founding director of the architectural practice dRMM, whose work is well known for ‘innovative construction technologies and materials’. Perhaps de Rijke’s most inventive design is his much-lauded ‘Sliding House’, created for a private client in 2009, which won an RIBA Award and both Grand Designs ‘Best new building’ and overall ‘Best house’ categories.

Alex de Rijke said: ‘I am proposing that Architecture and Interiors at the new School are studied in the global context of new sustainable materials and manufacturing processes, as a remit and broad parameter for creative study and research. Together with developed workshop and studio connections to facilitate 1:1 prototyping, we will build a momentum that will make the new RCA School of Architecture become the postgraduate school that defines architecture as ‘Useful Art’.

‘Having always regarded education as a parallel discipline to practice, I will continue as Director of dRMM Architects while developing a new course for the RCA, one which repositions future architects as the most highly skilled prime movers in the currently deregulated and debased market for building design and procurement.’

Coates, who is best known for designing the British Pavilion at Expo ‘98 in Lisbon, the Body Zone at London’s Millennium Dome, the National Centre for Popular | Music in Sheffield, is now focusing on writing and product design work.

Previous story - Nigel Coates speaks to the AJ

‘Leading the architecture department has been a fantastic experience, and I am incredibly proud of the body of work the students and staff have produced.’

‘The decision to leave has been incredibly difficult to make. At the beginning of the year the RCA Senate accepted my proposal to expand the department into a school of architecture.

‘But I’ve always been a hands-on head. Having four times as many students has moved the role away from my creative interests. My creative life outside of the college has intensified over the last few years, and I didn’t feel I could take on this more time-consuming role.’

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