A VISION FOR THE SLADE SCHOOL OF FINE ART
THE SLADE SCHOOL OF FINE ART IS AN INSTITUTION OF INTERNATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE. AS IT NEARS ITS 150TH ANNIVERSARY, INSPIRATION FROM ITS ILLUSTRIOUS PAST IS HELPING TO INFORM A VISION FOR ITS FUTURE.
Commissioned by UCL Estates, our Conservation Plan examines the architectural and cultural significance of the Grade 1 listed building, assesses the ways in which past alterations have either contributed to or detracted from that significance, considers opportunities for redevelopment and provides a framework within which any changes or repairs to the building should be developed. It is an important first step in establishing a vision for the future.
The plan aims to draw out what is important about The Slade School of Fine Art and help define how it should be protected. It demonstrates how a key building within the university’s historic building stock can be better understood, protected and appreciated across the wider UCL estate.
Despite the huge changes in the surrounding area, a visitor to the North Wing building at University College, London from the 1880’s would find the exterior of the Slade’s home remarkably unchanged, it’s genteel, classical stone façade belying the robust character of its interior and radical ideas lying therein.
For the first three decades of its life, the building functioned as scientific and artistic laboratory, with Nobel prize-winning chemists carrying out experiments in the lower ground floor and a ground-breaking physiology department on the second floor. For nearly 150 years, changing ideas surrounding the production of art, departmental relocations and the competition for space within building provides illuminating signs of shifting tastes, priorities, politics, economics, technical advancement, changing pedagogy and highlights shifting priorities within the world of art, of UCL and influences from further afield.
The Life Drawing Theatre which formed the heart of the original building and the majority of the studio spaces remain and the studio-led culture evident critical to the first director of the school still abundantly evident. The Slade remains a living organism, alive, moving and occupying where it can, maximising opportunities and developing creative ideas. Over a century and a half, its home has continued to provide students and teachers with a flexible, practical internal environment for creative expression. The ongoing experimental character of the Slade, and its proximity to wider disciplines is perhaps its most recognisable historical attribute.
CLIENT: University College London