Brave New Alps

Department 21 – an experimental interdisciplinary workspace at the Royal College of Art


Department 21 will be a temporary, physical space established by students as an experiment in interdisciplinary practice. In January 2010 – once Painting has moved to Howie Street – Department 21 will salvage Floor 2 of the Stevens Building. Department 21 seeks to explore whether this territory, freed by the departure of one department and the anticipation of another, can become a new kind of conceptual and social space as well as physical one.
    For one month only, students from all departments of the College are invited to use Department 21 to develop independent work and cultivate collaborative projects in a multi-purpose environment. Students interested in fully inhabiting Department 21 will have the opportunity to generate and take advantage of a truly multi-disciplinary creative hub. Whilst continuing to develop independent projects, students will be able to share thoughts in cross-disciplinary crits, bring in tutors for open tutorials, participate in workshops, invite outside lecturers, join informal events and explore how their practice evolves in an open and discursive environment.


Beyond the existing group of 10 students, Department 21 can offer one space per existing college department. Spaces will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis through an email application process which will be advertised to all students and will run from 10am on Thursday 3rd until 5pm Friday 4th December. Any spaces which remain available by the close of submission will be allocated at random from the waiting list. A flexible, communal area within Department 21 will offer further opportunities for more students and tutors who wish to benefit from a radical and productive environment without fully inhabiting the space on a day-to-day basis. It will be expressed to students that this is not an opportunity to gain extra studio space, but a challenging and progressive exercise for open-minded students wanting to share and develop knowledge and practice.

By testing the possibilities of a cross-disciplinary initiative, Department 21 aims to be challenging, inclusive, radical and productive, and act as an experiment through which future inter-departmental scenarios might be determined.

Department 21 is a project we are developing in collaboration with Carmen Billows (Curating Contemporary Art), Callum Cooper (Animation), Melissa Gamwell (Ceramics & Glass), Polly Hunter (History of Design), Sara Muzio (Animation), Anaïs Tondeur (Textiles) and Ottilie Ventiroso and Oliver Wainwright (from StudioSuperniche, Architecture).