Ravensbourne College | The Plan
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Ravensbourne College

Foreign Office Architects

Located on the Greenwich peninsula, a finger of land jutting out into a bend in the river Thames, Ravensbourne City College is part of an urban development area best known for its Millennium Dome, now an entertainment and exhibition facility called the O2 Arena. The north façade of the college faces onto the O2 dome. The key concept behind the programme developed by Foreign Office Architects Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera-Polo was to create integrated overlapping spaces and functions, the physical equivalent of the college’s educational tenets whereby design and new communications media must mesh for creativity to be unleashed. The architectur e is designed to provide environments equipped with latest generation technology to encourage just this sort of intellectual interaction that allows ideas to circulate freely and creative experimentation to thrive. Before the bold assertiveness of the O2 dome, Ravensbourne College stands as a polyhedral statement, a contemporary take on traditional Persian decorative architecture. The non-orthogonal ground plan traces a chevron-like footprint whose central axis identifies the north elevation as the main entrance. Some of the ground floor area is given over to a commercial arcade. Inside, huge empty volumes show off their steel pillar and beam structural frame. The perception is one of soaring heights and long vistas. The circulation corridors stretch out like extended balconies with transparent metal parapets from which to observe the human theatre below. Centrally placed at the intersection generating the concave ground plan, these full-height volumes form the core of the building. They are a “bi-polar” nodes comprising two atria: a public-access north atrium leading to a theatre-auditorium and a south atrium in the college proper that sits on top of the auditorium. The resolutely open volumes and spaces are a fitting companion to the dense figurative patterns and cutting-edge technology used on the façades. Composite...

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