In its scale and singularity this new building by Herzog & de Meuron in Battersea strikes the right balance, writes Richard Gatti

RCA 22-05 HdM 3042

Source: Iwan Baan

The RCA’s £135m design and innovation campus in Battersea

为皇家艺术学院设计一个新的艺术和设计建筑是一个平衡的行为。一方面,皇家艺术学院是一个面向外部的机构,希望展示它的设施、学生和他们的工作——部分原因是为了吸引未来最优秀的学生,并给它的许多资助者(包括政府)一些值得夸耀的东西。另一方面,这都是关于实验和安全空间:尝试想法,测试它们,直到它们被打破。

Successful studio spaces give their occupants licence – licence to screw things into the walls, paint the ceiling, take an angle grinder to the floor. Experimentation, and the inevitable failure that goes with taking risks, requires a degree of introversion, ownership and control, rather than picture windows to Battersea Bridge Road. Similarly destructive transformations of space are not obviously welcome activities in £135m flagship buildings.

赫尔佐格和德梅隆对这一困境的解决方案本质上是一个外壳和核心:他们设计了一个强大的城市形象,包裹在装饰立面和一个简单而坚固的内部,强调灵活性。工作室空间高于地面层,窗户的安排优先考虑光线和空气,而不是进入室内的景观。

>> Also read:Royal College of Art showcases Herzog & de Meuron campus

RCA 22-05 HdM 3133

Source: Iwan Baan

The elevation to Battersea Bridge Road has a strong, almost graphic quality

The elevation to Battersea Bridge Road has a strong, almost graphic quality that you can imagine being adopted as a logo for the campus in years to come. Five thick bands of brick, all in plane, slightly offset from each other.

The first two are a generous storey height, with the ground floor interrupted by two large picture windows. The next two are deep balconies while the fifth, also in plane, describes the roof.

To the south the roof is flat, and the same thickness as the balconies, whereas to the north it rises to form a pair of great saw-toothed northlights, perhaps a nod to Haworth Tompkins’ adjacent Dyson & Woo Buildings.

RCA 22-05 HdM 2818

Source: Iwan Baan

The central passageway leads to what will be a café courtyard at the rear of the site, drawing in students from across the campus

Ribbon windows are set back well behind these brick elements, providing light and views, but also giving occupants a degree of privacy. The brick is a pinkish grey brown stock brick in a Flemish bond and, continuing Herzog & de Meuron’s experimentation at the Tate Modern extension, the horizontal positioning of the bricks shifts.

Above the ground floor the headers protrude by approximately 10mm. This serves to emphasise the bond and give a three-dimensionality to the facade, especially as it is repeated in the brick soffits to the first floor; but it also draws attention to the scale of the brick itself – a monumental skin built out of simple repeating elements.

The slight shadow from each header has the cumulative effect of making the upper stories look as if they are formed from a slightly darker brick. And that, barring a hit and miss brickwork detail to both the ground and first floors, forms the entire elevation to the main road.

The north and south elevations to the Studio Building are even simpler – simple extrusions of this form for the entire length of Howie Street – approximately 100m in all. At ground-floor level this length is traversed by three cross-cutting passageways, while two of these are semi-internalised.

中心的一个通向基地后方的café庭院,吸引着整个校园的学生,甚至是公众的成员。

RCA 22-05 HdM 2814

Source: Iwan Baan

The brick is a pinkish grey brown stock brick in a Flemish bond

Windows have been located to reinforce the idea that the RCA is a place of making – a place where art and technology intersect. So the plate glass to Battersea Park Road showcases the timber and metal workshops, while the route to the café is animated by views of a robotic arm.

因此,从字面上和隐喻上来说,上面的工作室是建立在工作室的基础上,强调了一种制造文化,这对RCA和赫尔佐格和德梅隆来说都是核心。

RCA 22-05 HdM 2808

Source: Iwan Baan

The security lines that demarcate most university campuses are pleasingly absent. As well as an entrance of sorts, this is a place of assembly or exhibition

Another of these cross routes (previously Radstock Street) has been largely internalised and forms the new entrance/gallery space for the building, “the Hangar”. This is a double-height, brick-lined volume with sliding folding glazed doors to each end, enabling it to be returned to a street-like status. This is a robust space. You could drive right onto the black terrazzo floor, and indeed the dropped kerb of the old road has been retained.

这是这栋建筑最接近“前门”的地方——令人高兴的是,大多数大学校园的安全线都没有。作为一个入口,这是一个集会或展览的地方,一个可以举办非常大型的工作或产品发布会的地方。

Vice chancellor Paul Thompson noted that Herzog & de Meuron won the competition not just on the strength of their visions for the building, but also on the depth of their understanding of the Darwin building in Kensington and the neighbouring Dyson building, where routes through the buildings encourage the intermingling of disciplines. Here the singular building form and the simple structure (thick concrete slabs supported on concrete filled steel columns) allow for big spans, with each floor of the Studio Building effectively comprising two giant rooms. Each of these rooms has its own core and toilet block as a central element, with the studio space wrapped around.

工作室是有效的开放平面-内部分区,与LTS建筑事务所合作设计,在不同的楼层提供不同的分隔。

RCA 22-05 HdM 3332

Source: Iwan Baan

The Robotics Hangar, a double-height, brick-lined volume with sliding folding glazed doors to each end, enabling it to be returned to a street-like status

On the first floor, the sculpture studios are defined by Douglas Fir plywood on timber studwork. The studwork spans from concrete floor to concrete ceiling – but the boards are standard 8 and 10 foot boards stopping short at the base to give a negative skirting, and finishing in line with the clerestory windows, some way short of the 4.5m high ceilings.

这是一种谨慎的平衡——如何保持这是一个房间的感觉,允许光线、学生和思想的自由交流,同时创造足够的分隔,让不同的活动在房间的不同区域发生。赫尔佐格和德梅隆谈到了重建街道的氛围——是的,这里有噪音、灰尘和气味;但同样也有足够的隐私来完成工作。

This seemed plausible on a press day with no students in situ, but a list of the measures taken to ensure the space is sufficiently robust gives me pause. The partition walls are sacrificial. The ceilings have pre-established load points and scaffolding bars for fixing work to the ceiling – but just in case, no services run through them (power sockets are instead suspended above head height).

RCA 22-05 HdM 3775

Source: Iwan Baan

The Weston Studios are flexible third-floor spaces

Likewise the floor has an additional 100mm of concrete – a layer designed to mitigate against damage should a student go “all Gordon Matta-Clark” as the vice chancellor would have it. There is little by way of acoustic mitigation here – all surfaces are hard, and while there are curtain racks, what curtains there are seem more designed to contain sparks than dampen noise.

The top floor (contemporary art practice and design) follows a similar pattern. The floor is marginally softer – grey linoleum rather than concrete; the windows are more prominent, including a wraparound balcony that forms an alternative circulation route.

On the balcony, the heavy brick facade is revealed to be half a brick thick, and the advancing headers emphasise the fragility of the structure, which is stabilised by steel fins and a structural balustrade.

RCA 22-05 HdM 3126

Source: Iwan Baan

The skin here is aluminium aerofoils, designed to emphasise the verticality of the eight-storey block in contrast to the horizontal extrusion of the student facility

Again, all the services are overhead, which feels counterintuitive in a room where the ceiling is pitched to accommodate a giant high pitched northlight. It turns out that the second northlight sits largely above the core, and so is simply blocked out for the majority of its length.

Despite this, and like the building as a whole, this space is impressive in its singularity: a striking volume defined by its relationship to daylight. The challenge will come when these spaces are occupied; and here the school worked with Vitra to design new partition and storage systems, designed to be demounted and reassembled in under 20 minutes.

The Studio Building is complemented by the Rausing Research and Innovation Building. The skin here is aluminium aerofoils, designed to emphasise the verticality of the eight-storey block in contrast to the horizontal extrusion of the student facility.

Although this faculty block houses very different functions to the studios, interior details, finishes and fittings are repeated, to the extent that sometimes only the floor finish changes. A pragmatic solution for a sculpture studio (moving the power to a ceiling mounted rack) is clunkier in a seminar room or the offices of InnovationRCA, the RCA’s business incubator – but serves as a physical reminder that the college is first and foremost a place of making.

This feels like a significant building. Jacques Herzog described the design as not flashy, claiming that “the flash should come from inside”; and how the use of brick grounds the building in its context. I think he is being modest – the brick is somehow both heavy and delicate at the same time, and its scale and singularity is deeply weird and intriguing in a London context.

He also talked about how the practice’s previous work in the capital – the Tate Modern and the Laban Dance centre – helped to shift the global centre towards London in their respective fields. The RCA will very much be hoping for a repeat.

RCA 22-05 HdM 3015

Source: Iwan Baan

Sustainability

很明显,当被问及这座建筑的可持续性时,副校长们的第一反应是提到他们预计这座建筑将使用120年。

这在两个方面具有启发性。首先,因为它指出了一个经常被忽视的可持续性方面:这座建筑将在这里使用多久?或者换句话说,在什么时期所有这些混凝土和钢材的沉没成本会被摊销?其次,它暗示环境绩效不是客户的关键驱动因素。

Nonetheless, this is a building that achieves BREEAM excellent. It does this through bold architectural gestures such as the deep balconies that reduce overheating paired with exposed concrete floors that act as a heat sink for low angled sun, and the open plan floorplates that allows passive cross ventilation throughout.

同时也要注意详细的技术规范,因此混凝土中矿渣的用量会随着浇筑季节的变化而变化,以便将水泥用量降到最低。这样,再加上模板的重复使用,“直至崩解”,应该会导致清水混凝土的明显变化,但尽管如此,裸露的混凝土都是高质量的。

Could they do more? Possibly. Not covering the rear sides of the saw-toothed roof lights with PVs feels like a missed opportunity. These face south by south-east, and are pitched at roughly 25 degrees – or in other words, pretty much exactly what you would do if you were designing for maximum solar efficiency.

相反,在邻近的绿色/蓝色屋顶上布置了少量的太阳能电池板——足以满足规划/BREEAM要求,但只覆盖建筑消耗的电力的一小部分。