Institute eyes dedicated studio, study room, terrace and display area for “hands-on, creative activities” at Portland Place headquarters

RIBA is planning to convert around half of the fourth floor of its Portland Place headquarters into a new learning centre catering for a spectrum of age groups.

The project, set to be bankrolled by a “major” grant from arts and heritage-focused charity the Clore Duffield Foundation, targets the creation of around 365 sq m of “exemplar learning space” at the grade II* listed building.

RIBA Competitions yesterday launched a call for architects to submit expressions of interest in the project, which would turn meeting rooms adjacent to the council chamber into a “learning studio”; offices into study space and the floor’s stairwell lobby area into a “learning showcase area”.

The bidding pack for the project said estimated construction costs were £348,000 exclusive of design fees, with a further £44,000 available for furniture, fixtures and equipment.

RIBA said the learning centre would directly support its strategic objectives of engaging school-age children in architecture and delivering learning programmes that bring architecture to life for audiences of all backgrounds and ages via the institute’s collections.

It said its national programme had engaged 4,000 primary and secondary schoolchildren since its launch in 2015.

In addition to opportunities for under-18s, the new facilites are expected to host practical workshops and courses in architectural history, drawing, model-making, and photography for students and adults.


RIBA learning centre

The rooms at 66 Portland Place that RIBA has earmarked for its new learning centre


President Jane Duncan said the Clore Duffield Foundation’s support for the project was a “fantastic validation” of the institute’s engagement programmes.

“Through our design competition we hope to commission the delivery of a vibrant and flexible learning centre that exemplifies the value we place on good design in all teaching and learning spaces,” she said.

The deadline for expression-of-interest returns is 2pm on July 14.

A preliminary briefing paper said a winning team was expected to be appointed in September.