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Student Shows 2012: Royal College of Art

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Simon Hogg finds a good deal of space and a good dose of wit and at this year’s RCA show

In common with other London schools, the RCA does not major in real-world brick-laying; the stand-out schemes were both fantastic and fantasy.

‘Speculative cultural themes’ were given to these, the last group of students enrolled under the professorship of Nigel Coates (1995-2011). The architectural responses are mostly London-based and delivered with a good dose of wit (a ruined Olympic Stadium; a university atop New Covent Garden Market, hutongs on Chelsea Bridge Road).

One exhibiting student characterised the RCA approach as: ‘Be individual, follow your own passions.’

The show was a treat to visit thanks to the generous ground-floor exhibition space, shared with other RCA output such as ceramics and fashion.

The RCA has seen a year of change as new course leader Alex de Rijke noted in his introduction to the show: ‘Seven new visiting lecturers, followed by a new dean, a new head of architecture, a new head of research and a new head of interior design.’

Standout unit

The work of ASD2 into ideas of the ‘Walled City’ (overseen by Carmody Groarke, who also laid out the exhibition space) is the most inventive on display.  

Standout students

Percy Weston’s linear safari park brings giraffes and chimpanzees to a strip of wilderness between Deptford and Canary Wharf.

Joseph Deane looks at how ‘all organic and inorganic matter including form a distributive agency over and alongside human intentionality’.

Both Weston and Deane have been put forward for the President’s Medal and have set up in practice together. First commission: redesign the RCA’s Battersea campus café.

In a word


AJ reviews of every student show in the UK will be published in a special issue of the magazine on 26 July. Students can subscribe to the AJ for just £82.50.

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