Richmond Adult Community College is a center of excellence for adults providing learning, training and personal development. As a beacon for adult learning, this project facilitates a more accessible and effective teaching environment that is substantially more sustainable.
Previously located on two separate sites, the redevelopment called for consolidation to produce a more efficient programme for its users. Funds gained from the sale of the Twickenham site contributed to the design and reformation of the Richmond site. Duggan Morris Architects won the commission through an invited competition in October 2011. It consisted of a combination of new build and refurbishment components introducing a new theatre, art and ceramics department, a reception area and a new central cloister as well as general teaching spaces.
Located within the Central Richmond Conservation Area and adjacent to the Kew Foot Road Conservation Area to the north, the area is home to a rich variety of listed buildings that differ in architectural style.
The project was defined by an ambition for a long term process of community engagement, providing greater access, inclusivity and flexibility, upgrading the quality of the site, improving its relationship to the street, and thus creating a building of repute and standing. In order to achieve this vision, within an already heavily developed site, it was imperative to make the college more efficient in terms of spatial use, identifying unused areas and landlocked spaces, and unlocking them.
Where necessary areas were reconfigured or demolished to create better efficiencies within the site. This process of unlocking and stripping served a dual purpose, to improve the setting of the original Edwardian building and unify the site with new buildings, extensions and link blocks. This allowed for the reorganization of curriculum hubs bringing compatible uses (such as dance and theatre) together, with shared facilities providing greater spatial efficiency.
The project incorporated extensive refurbishment in many areas. The results were a new 250-capacity studio theatre equipped with dance, music rooms and a recording studio within the Queen Charlotte Hall. A single-storey extension linking the main reception hall with the theatre lobby incorporating an open café space as well as art and design workshops born from an existing gymnasium.
The new buildings are designed to complement and differentiate themselves from the Edwardian facade.
The conceptual strategy being a series of interconnected cubic forms which cluster along the Twickenham Road boundary and culminating in the street facing new build element of the Art and Design block. These simple cubic forms are varying mass and height, wrapped in a softly textured brick skin and articulated with oversized picture windows and topped with metallic roof level lanterns.
A courtyard, sits at the centre of the site. This green space is intended to provide a heart to the scheme and provides a transparent connection for several of the key site activities, including a cafe and exhibition space along with reception, foyer, artists' shop and theatre bar, all accessed from a new clear entrance for staff, learners and the public.