Central to Begin Work on North Block Development

Image: Flash Forward; Design: Tim Ronalds Architects

Image: Flash Forward; Design: Tim Ronalds Architects

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Following the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s independent review into institution-specific funding, and the confirmation that The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s provision is world-leading, the School is delighted to announce that it can now move ahead with the next phase of development on its site in Swiss Cottage. 

The new North Block building, which received planning permission from Camden Council in March of 2015 after a lengthy period of consultation, will improve the campus’s provisions and provide access to cutting-edge arts facilities for both students and the local community, further cementing the School’s reputation as a North London cultural hub.  

The works will extend the School’s teaching, rehearsal and performance spaces, and will include the addition of studios with a focus on training for film/ media and a new public, courtyard theatre.  Whilst not exceeding the current campus building line, the North Block will replace the outdated, temporary Studio 1 building (located on Buckland Crescent) and will provide the School with greatly needed additional teaching, rehearsal and performance spaces, enabling students and staff to work together on the newly consolidated site and experience improved learning and teaching environments.  The additional space will also provide the School with opportunities to expand its youth work and to contribute more comprehensively to cultural offerings in the local area.

Central’s Principal, Professor Gavin Henderson said:

“This is a tremendous time for Central, as we forge ahead with greatly increased funding for World Leading research and now doubled funding for our Teaching and Learning – also assessed as World Leading.  We can proceed with added confidence to start on site with our new building, bringing state of the art studios to enhance facilities that are already considered to be amongst the best in our sector.  We are grateful to all who have helped bring us to this turning point in Central’s history.”

The announcement coincides with the School’s appointment of GRAHAM Construction as the project’s official contractors.  GRAHAM Construction’s London & South East team has a proven track record of working closely with their clients to deliver high-quality schemes through innovative construction solutions.

GRAHAM Construction’s London Office Director, Rob Joyce said:

“The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s vision to provide high quality, bespoke teaching and performance spaces that meet its students’ needs and uphold its world-leading reputation, will be further realised with this development. Distinctive, fit-for-purpose theatrical and performing arts facilities will integrate with local architecture and contribute to the surrounding cultural quarter, creating a long-term sustainable solution.”

Design for the building has been led by Tim Ronalds Architects, a firm which boasts an extensive repertoire in the development of performing arts venues including The Circus Space, Regent Street Cinema, and Jacksons Lane Arts Centre in Highgate.  Tim Ronalds has also undertaken ambitious restorations of the Grade II* listed Wilton’s Music Hall, Hackney Empire, and The Kings Theatre in Southsea. 

Architect Tim Ronalds said:

“This is an exciting project.  Our team have worked hard to devise a design which fits all that Central needs into a building that blends with the Conservation Area.”  

Central is one of the world’s pre-eminent conservatoires for the performing arts.  With over 100 years of history, its alumni can be found in every avenue of the creative industries and include such luminary figures as Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Grandage, Sonia Friedman, Deborah Warner, Martin Freeman, Andrew Garfield and Kit Harington.  Its ratio of undergraduate applications to places is the highest of any UK university, and the past 18 months have seen both its institution-specific funding and its research grant allocations increased in recognition of its independently adjudged world-leading teaching and research programmes.   

Founded in 1906 at the Royal Albert Hall, the School moved to the Embassy Theatre in 1956 and it is upon this historic site that it continues to grow. 

Work on the North Block is expected to begin in July/August 2016 with a projected completion date in early 2018 and the School will remain in use throughout the construction process.  As with its previous development works, Central remains committed to engaging fully with area residents and to working closely with local stakeholders and Camden Council.

We can proceed with added confidence to start on site with our new building, bringing state of the art studios to enhance facilities that are already considered to be amongst the best in our sector.

Professor Gavin Henderson