Mar 3, 2002 - Shiro Nakamura, Senior Vice President and Head of Design at Nissan Motor Company, has announced plans to establish a new design centre in London, at a press conference held at the Royal College of Art in London.

Nissan Design Europe, which will be located in central London in Paddington, will begin operations in January 2003. When it opens, it will be one of the six worldwide studios in Nissan’s global design network.

The plans are for around 40 international designers, modelers and support staff to work in the new studio on the development of concepts and designs for the next generation of Nissan cars. The studio will concentrate mainly on vehicles for the European market, but will also undertake design projects for other global markets. 

The new studio will be housed in the Rotunda, a former British Rail maintenance building built in the 1960s, which has been unused since the 1980s. Nissan plans to transform the historically listed building into an ultra-modern design studio.

The Rotunda is a reinforced concrete structure, originally erected in 1966 as a maintenance depot for British Rail. Designed by architects Bicknell and Hamilton, it is considered one of the most important buildings of the post-war British Modern movement, and carries a Grade II listing from English Heritage. 

Winner of both the Architectural Design Project Award in 1966 and the Concrete Society’s Award in 1969, the Rotunda has become something of a landmark for drivers on the busy M40 motorway just overhead.

Nissan will oversee the transformation of the building, which is currently derelict, into a purpose-built and ultra-modern design studio. The work, which begins this month, is due for completion at the end of 2002.

Once complete, the building will house a design studio, a purpose built CAD (Computer Aided Design) suite, a presentation area, a showroom, a number of model making machines and a ‘chill out’ zone for relaxation.

Shiro Nakamura, the new President of Nissan Design Europe said: “The decision to establish this new European design centre shows how committed we are to design, which is now taking a leading role within Nissan.

“We wanted to give our designers a creative environment in which to work, and we feel that the location we have chosen is perfect. We chose London for its vibrancy and multi-culturalism, as well as its strength in all art mediums including fashion, art, architecture and car design.” 

The plans for the renovation of the Rotunda are based around the Japanese concept of ‘wa’ meaning harmony. In particular, the designers have focused on creating harmony between European and Japanese cultures, and between the building’s heritage and the new creation.

The announcement was made at a ceremony to name the winners of Nissan’s Vehicle Design Award 2002. Around 20 students from the Royal College of Art’s postgraduate Vehicle Design course took part in the project to design a future Nissan compact car for the year 2010.

Shuji Takano, Vice President of Nissan Design Europe, and a member of the judging panel said: “The Royal College of Art has an excellent reputation and the students who have participated in this Nissan-sponsored project have produced a very high standard of work. They will, without doubt, be enormously influential in vehicle design over the coming years.”


Shiro Nakamura announces the new London Design Studio


RCA students presentation to the Nissan design representatives


RCA students explain their design proposals to Shiro Nakamura