RCA launches hub at New Acres in Wandsworth

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The Royal College of Art has established an outpost in a new Legal and General development, New Acres in Wandsworth.

Located in ‘The NEX’ – aptly named to offer a taste of what is to come at The New Acres Experience with a nod to independents, the arts and the community being built - it is the first space across the 1000-home development to open to the public that will also home 30 independent businesses – the live creative studio encourages creatives and visitors alike to collaborate and inspire new life into the area.

The RCA component, named super SATELLITE, hosts weekly design workshops by current students with alumni carrying out residencies focused on sustainability, led by RCA lecturer Kevin Haley.

Upcycling focus

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The space, designed by Kevin Haley Studio and made with poplar plywood, has a strict zero waste policy with everything onsite able to be reused or moved to other retailers.

All projects currently being developed by RCA students are made up of waste from the development’s building site to ensure a multifaceted approach to upcycling. The transformation of onsite construction waste into new materials, structures and life-sized installations have been prominently displayed around the site, including the unit’s windows.

Its untouched interior, featuring unpainted walls with an industrial touch, invites creators to freely innovate outside of an educational environment. The ‘curated messy’ setting facilitates live creation, where the space can be converted into a venue for larger events, such as talks, discussions and mini exhibitions, in time for Wandsworth becoming London’s Borough of Culture 2025.

Reinventing the marketing suite

The NEX acts as an exhibition showcasing the future of living at New Acres – thoughtfully divided into three zones to guide visitors through the essence of the development. Shifting the positioning away from a marketing suite being a temporary space to serve one purpose, the space instead serves multiple purposes and forms a community at its core. The reinvented ‘marketing suite’ brings in commercial tenants and follows their commitment to independent retailers.

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One of three zones at The NEX provides a sneak peek into the co-working future of New Acres offered by FOUNDRY. Allowing existing members to work in the space for free in anticipation of the larger space opening later in the year. Emphasising innovation and functionality, workstations showcase precision and modernity in an environment that highlights the convenience of collaboration.

The second zone, the Concept Store, is an immersive and multifunctional space designed to offer an interactive environment for presentations, discussions and events while providing a tangible preview of the future retail environments within New Acres. At the centre sits a community archive structure with shelves curated to mix historical, present and future narratives about New Acres.

Partnered with 404 Coffee and set up by one of the development’s new residents, the area serves as a relaxed gathering space for engagement and exploration.

Each design choice, from furniture placement to colour section and materials, blends contemporary design with historical touches to create a harmonious atmosphere.

Flexibility and community building

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Building a community remains the core focus of The NEX. Designed with adaptable furniture, the space can host a variety of events, from small gatherings like book clubs, discussion groups, and comedy nights to larger events such as pop-up fitness classes, exhibitions, and large talks.

Aside from this, the space encourages the development of ideas and demonstrates the diverse types of commercial spaces New Acres will implement across the development.

Kevin Haley, founder of Kevin Haley Studio and lecturer at RCA, said:“It’s been an incredible opportunity to bring this space to life at New Acres. I previously studied architecture at The Royal College of Art and wished there were more opportunities like this – it’s a huge passion project of mine to drive that creativity forward and give the upcoming students a safe space to experiment with their art. The NEX is somewhere that has involved the community from ideation to completion and the project seamlessly brings various stories together into one project.”

Denz Ibrahim, Head of Futuring & Place at Legal & General Investment Management, said:“We’re excited to have opened the doors at The NEX in Wandsworth. With Wandsworth being named London’s Borough of Culture from April 2025, New Acres will play a pivotal role in celebrating the creativity and individuality of the community through its curated spaces. The NEX marks the first part of this journey to become one of the first brand neighborhoods dedicated to independent brands and will continue to sit at the centre of New Acres.”

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Professor Graeme Brooker, Head of Programme for Interior Design at the Royal College of Art,said: “Reuse and communities are at the centre of what we do on the Interior Design programme at the RCA so the super SATELLITE is an excellent opportunity for our students to connect and collaborate with NEX and the Wandsworth community. We look forward to developing a new and innovative way of working between our students and NEX.”

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