Design District’s officially opens its first building

Rising gleaming from the ground like a giant aluminium block, A1 by Spanish-Italian architect Barozzi Veiga has officially become the first building to open in London’s new Design District on Greenwich Peninsula. This metallic monolith is the practice’s first project in the UK, and provides a home for the Institute for Creativity & Technology – a new post-graduate centre for students of Ravensbourne University.

Situated at the northwestern corner of Design District, beside the main entrance, The Institute is a rectangular structure with towering ceilings, an asymmetric arrangement of large, grid-like windows, punctuating a reflective aluminium facade. One of 16 architecturally diverse buildings that comprise London’s new dedicated centre for the creative industries, Barozzi Veiga’s striking and geometric modern structure puts Ravensbourne’s postgraduate students in the heart of a dynamic ecosystem of enterprises, studios and freelancers, spanning every creative discipline.
The next generation of creatives
Based on Greenwich Peninsula since 2010, Ravensbourne University London is the UK’s leading provider of vocational education in the creative industries, with one of the highest graduate employment rates in the country, as well as the top position when it comes to graduate salaries in the creative sector. To consolidate this position, and further energise the UK’s creative economy, Ravensbourne has chosen a Barozzi Veiga building at Design District to house its new centre for post-graduate study: the Institute for Creativity & Technology.

The Institute’s four floors will house the university’s graduate school, a start-up incubator, a research lab and a workshop, all of which will benefit from the lofty ceiling heights and plentiful natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows. The new facility means that GradSchool, Ravensbourne’s postgraduate department, can add four new master’s courses to its progressive roster: MA Design Communication and Technology; MA Fashion Design, Management and Innovation; MA Illustration for Communication; and MDes Service Design, Social Innovation and Design Leadership.

Inside the Institute for Creativity & Technology, where certain facilities will be accessible to tenants across Design District. Photograph courtesy of Brinkworth.

Up to 200 students and staff are likely to be in the building at any one time, taking advantage of state-of the-art facilities including the Workshop, equipped with prototyping resources, a VR/AR lab and a print bureau, as well as offices hotdesking space, meeting areas and an exhibition space that will be used for both university and public events. The university’s sector-leading creative researchers will have their own dedicated workspace in the form of ResearchRave; students can gain real-world professional experience at in-house agency CreativeLab; and budding entrepreneurs can build up their fledgling businesses in Incubation+, the Institute’s hothouse for start-ups. And, with hundreds of creative professionals and businesses working on the Institute’s doorstep, students will have unlimited opportunity to connect with the people, ideas, and opportunities that will kickstart and enrich their careers.

“Our new Institute will strengthen our drive to foster the leadership capabilities of the creative changemakers of the future. I envisage a rich exchange of ideas between our postgraduate community, Design District, and the wider business and creative community.”
– Paul Sternberg, postgraduate director, Ravensbourne University London

The elegance of industry
Known for producing monolithic forms, angular geometries and industrial scales with a touch of Mediterranean flair, Barozzi Veiga has created a bold and futuristic, block-like structure in metal and glass that catches the eye without dominating the landscape. Contrasting engagingly with the different architectural approaches in the district, it is a building in conversation with the others around it.

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