St Martins opens £1.8m innovation centre

Central St Martins College of Art and Design has unveiled plans to extend its Design Laboratory, with the opening of a £1.8m innovation centre on the site of the former car park at its Southampton Row campus in London.

Designed by architect and Design Lab director Brent Richards, the centre has been in development for four years and opens on 15 May. The two-storey building will consist of four workshops, a movement studio, gallery and conference space for 80 people, as well as ‘breakout’ rooms. LED lighting is being donated by Philips.

Central St Martins Innovation, as it will be known, will be attached to the college’s existing innovation facility, which houses 40 researchers, says Dani

Salvadore, head of enterprise and innovation at the college. ‘Innovation has become increasingly important and we are now starting to develop work on innovation in its own right. One project, funded by the London Development Agency, looks at how we as a college interact with businesses. Innovation is something that is taught in business schools but not in the creative sector, so we are also launching an MA in innovation management,’ says Salvadore.

The centre will provide services aimed at supporting and nurturing young, creative start-ups, and provide training courses on innovation, creativity and business by tapping into the college’s other skill sets. It will also aim to serve as an ‘ideas laboratory’ by undertaking

‘cutting-edge research projects’ that bring together specialists from different disciplines. External influences will also be galvanised via debates, discussions and events around innovation.

Funding for the new centre has been raised in two phases, Salvadore explains.

The first phase was largely self-funded, while the second phase was funded by a £1.8bn grant from the LDA.

If the college’s move to King’s Cross goes ahead in 2010, the centre will move too, she adds.

Salvadore says that, with the new centre, CSMI will continue to apply its learning on innovation to the wider needs of business, Government, the charity sector and the design industry.

• Central St Martins College of Art and Design has just unveiled an ambitious relocation plan to move to a site overlooking the Regent’s Canal in London’s King’s Cross
• The 27ha development to be completed by summer 2010
• The scheme would move 90% of the college’s 4500 students
• A single, purpose-built, state-of-the-art site, encompassing new and listed buildings, would be designed to replace the college’s current spread of campuses in central London
• The Byam Shaw School of Art would remain in Archway

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