The £135 million Royal College of Arts campus in Battersea is the most significant expansion in the institution’s history, introducing a diverse array of new facilities and studio spaces for postgraduate university students. Designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, the 15,500 sqm building is split into two connected wings, one containing studios for traditional arts and design disciplines, the other for science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) departments.
Herzog & de Meuron famously worked on the Tate Modern Switch House expansion with its gravity-defying angular brick elevations. Here the focus is on tradition and modesty, a regular stock brick (Ibstock’s Old English Birtley) was specified but its use ‘maximialised’ across the project to amplify the street-scale geometry.
The ground floor façade is arranged in a textured Flemish bond, the projected stretcher courses alternating with a recessed header course to give the walls a distinctive grain, light and shadow. On the upper storeys, the pattern is inverted, with the cut ends of the header bricks exposed to reveal the marks of manufacture and the blacks and blues of the fired core.