Inside the Royal College of Art fashion studios

LONDON — The Royal College of Art, the London-based art and design university that nurtured the likes of Tracey Emin, Christopher Bailey and Erdem Moralioglu, is in the process of future-proofing itself with new academic buildings, curricula and scholarship funds.

The British institution, which was founded in 1837, announced a series of ambitious plans that will see it move from “the paradigm of the 20th-century art school to a 21st-century trans-disciplinary graduate school.”

The plans, which are part of a five-year campaign dubbed Generation RCA, will include the renovation of its Kensington site as well as the building of a new state-of-the-art building in Battersea, located opposite its existing campus in the area. The new site will be designed by the architects Herzog & de Meuron and will aim to facilitate a more modern way of working and teaching with ample room for open studio spaces and labs, that will also encourage cross-pollination between courses.

It will be ready to welcome students by 2021 and it will be funded by the government which has made a one-off funding contribution of 54 million pounds to the RCA campaign, alongside a philanthropic donation of 15 million pounds made by the Sigrid Rausing Trust, a British organization led by Swedish philanthropist Sigrid Rausing.

The university will also look to add key scientific disciplines to its program offer, to complement its traditional offer of creative courses. Some areas of focus for future courses of study will include nano and soft robotics, machine learning, materials science and the circular economy. The addition of these new areas of study will be accompanied by the opening of a series of new faculty positions, such as that of Genesis professor of innovation, a position that will be filled later this year.

RCA students in creative fields have already been encouraged to work with science students at the nearby Imperial College, to inject science and technology in their creative practices and this initiative will aim to further explore new areas of study and ensure students are equipped to answer to the demands of modern workplaces.

A new scholarship endowment fund is also part of the new campaign and will aim to ensure that the university has enough funds to offer places to the “most gifted students irrespective of their financial circumstances.”