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Herzog & de Meuron wins contest for RCA's £108m expansion

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The Royal College of Arts (RCA) has named Herzog & de Meuron as winner of its competition to design a £108 million extension to its Battersea campus

The Swiss stars were selected from an impressive shortlist made up almost exclusively of overseas practices, including Chicago-based Studio Gang,  Belgium firm Robbrecht en Daem architecten, France’s Lacaton & Vassal and Christian Kerez from Switzerland. The only finalist with a UK link was London-based Serie Architects.

The invited competition, organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants, attracted 97 expressions.

The proposed Battersea South campus project will replace the RCA’s sculpture building and moving image studio at the corner of Howie Street and Elcho Street.  The scheme, behind Foster + Partners’ offices in Hester Road, will sit alongside three existing RCA buildings all by Haworth Tompkins: the Sackler, Dyson, and Woo buildings.

The competition jury said Herzog & de Meuron’s approach ‘demonstrated a deep understanding of the potential for Battersea, making new connections and foreseeing the possibilities for sustainable place-making’.

It added that the practice’s concept ‘provided a clear organisational structure and showed an acute sensibility in mapping the complex objectives in the brief’.

Paul Thompson, rector of the RCA and chair of the architectural selection panel (ASP), said: ‘We set out a competition to find the very best architect to crystallise our vision for a new heart to the Battersea campus; we were very impressed by Herzog & de Meuron’s mastery of our brief.’

The college said the new scheme would help it expand its ‘research and knowledge exchange centres into the domains of computer and materials science, the impact of the digital economy, and intelligent mobility’.

Herzog de meuron rca3

Herzog de meuron rca3

Malcolm Reading, of Malcolm Reading Consultants said: ‘The exceptional shortlist was a measure of the RCA’s influence and standing in the design community worldwide.

’We had an outstanding field and the winning concept illustrates a depth of understanding about spaces that can stimulate an interaction between disciplines as well as anchoring the new campus into Battersea. It was a pleasure to work with the RCA to organise this global search.’

The shortlist was criticised by some, when it was announced last August, for its lack of UK practices and absence of any of the RCA’s own graduates.

The shortlist in full

  • Christian Kerez (Switzerland)
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro (USA)
  • Herzog & de Meuron (Switzerland and UK)
  • Lacaton & Vassal (France)
  • Robbrecht en Daem architecten (Belgium)
  • Serie Architects (UK and Singapore)
  • Studio Gang (USA)
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