Judi Dench’s former drama school to go ahead with extension

The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama will move ahead with the next phase of development on its site in Swiss Cottage.

The works will extend the school’s teaching, rehearsal and performance spaces and include the addition of studios and a new public, courtyard theatre.

The announcement came after Central’s institution-specific funding was doubled following an independent review by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

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.”

Graham Construction has been appointed the project’s official contractors and the design has been led by Tim Ronalds Architects.

Graham Construction will build the eight-storey North Block in the place of the temporary Studio 1. The new facility will be connected to the West Block via mezzanine walkways creating 2,400m² of new space.

The North Block will be traditionally-clad and painted stucco to integrate with the surrounding architecture of the Belsize Conservation Area. Sustainable design solutions including photovoltaic panels and natural ventilation methods will be installed to reduce the environmental impact of the running of the building.

Tim Ronalds Architects were responsible for the building’s design. The firm was involved 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 restorations of the Grade II listed Wilton’s Music Hall, Hackney Empire, and The Kings Theatre in Southsea.

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, Martin Freeman, Andrew Garfield and Kit Harington.

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.