What will it be called?
In October 2017 RSA Fellows voted to name the new coffeehouse Rawthmells. This pays tribute to the original 1754 enlightenment coffeehouse in which the RSA was founded - Rawthmells of Henrietta Street, Covent Garden.
Improving the flow of people
The increasing success of the House as a commercial venue combined with the RSA’s busy programme of public events, project launches, and press briefings, occasionally results in some corridors and staircases becoming a bottle neck. To ensure the new coffeehouse can become a global hub for social change we will need to accommodate a much higher number of visitors. Fortunately, relatively minor changes to the ground floor will dramatically improve the flow of people around the House, allowing us to balance the commercial aspects of the building with the demands of the new mission-focused coffeehouse.
A second entrance from John Adam Street will be opened up to provide a new route to the currently underused atrium staircase and elevator, which are already built to handle high levels of footfall. This new route through the House will also provide much better disabled access.
A new landing and entrance will built from the atrium staircase and elevator to provide access to the coffeehouse on level -1, complimenting access that will already be available via this route on level -2.
Levels -1 and -2
A new coffeehouse for a 21st Century Enlightenment
By consolidating our storage space and relocating staff to the top of the building, we will be able to open up parts of the House for the very first time.
The coffeehouse will connect stimulated minds with the lively exchange of ideas in a creative environment dedicated to progressive social change. A Hellerup staircase will connect levels -1 and -2 and form the centrepiece of the coffee house. The wide, wooden steps of the Hellerup can also be used as seating, converting the space into an auditorium, where public speaking, debate and discussion amongst coffeehouse guests will be actively encouraged. Through the RSA's existing digital platforms, the auditorium will be plugged into our global network. The space will be free to hire.
As well as providing superb coffee (the jet fuel for enlightened thinking) and excellent all-day dining, the coffeehouse will also provide innovative spaces designed to foster collaboration. The original enlightenment coffeehouses were shaped by the people who frequented them, and the RSA coffeehouse will be no different.
Transforming the vaults
Since the 2012 refurbishment the House has become one of London’s most sought after event spaces. The RSA’s kitchens, located in the vaults, can no longer keep up with demand, resulting in clients being turned away and an unnecessary financial loss for the charity.
A new, larger kitchen in the vaults will ensure that we can maximise the potential of the commerical events programme, and the resulting income will, over a ten year period, provide a return on the money invested in the development of the new coffeehouse.