Royal College of Art

The Student Union Terrace forms the heart of the Grade II Listed Kensington Gore campus of the Royal College of Art in London.  It is the only outside space on the campus and forms a key socialising space and transit zone connecting the surrounding buildings.  Over the years, the terrace had fallen into disrepair and the RCA appointed Gale & Snowden to develop designs based on Permaculture principles.

Incorporating beautiful and uplifting design, the use of the terrace will be extended into the winter months through the use of appropriate materials and shelter.  It is intrinsically linked to the adjacent café, offering flexibility for eating, drinking, social function and College events.

Three distinct planting zones – horizontal, vertical upright, vertical trailing – present opportunities for companion inter-planting of edible and useful species.  The edge effect is enhanced, increasing biodiversity.  Available resources are utilised through nutrient recycling, composting, photovoltaic and rainwater harvesting systems.

Alongside the social aspects, the terrace provides ongoing education opportunities.  Maintenance teams learn permaculture principles in order to best support the ecosystem in the future.  Students and catering staff realise the benefits of growing food on-site together with opportunities to recycle existing food waste through efficient recycling systems.

G&S lead a multidisciplinary team of consultants including architects, healthy building consultants, permaculture designers, landscape architects and species specialists to capitalise on every opportunity presented by this relatively small site.

  • Building
  • Location
  • Client
    Royal College of Art