Berman Guedes Stretton develop a new auditorium for The Queen's College Oxford
The Queen's College Oxford needed a teaching and performing space for a hundred plus people, and invited four architects to put forward proposals. The brief called for a high quality auditorium supporting state-of-the-art teaching facilities, acoustic control and environmental standards, and with full access compliance. Each architect was asked to propose a suitable site in the confined College precinct.
Berman Guedes Stretton identified the Nun's Garden, a long, narrow garden in the informal part of the College. BGS realised the architectural potential of the site by celebrating the narrow plot and the adjoining domestic-scaled original houses. The team created an intimate and light filled ‘garden' building between the original garden walls that were retained to become the east and west walls of the auditorium.
Inside the building, an oak clad roof floats above the exposed stone garden walls. Independent of the stone walls and steel structure sits a fully timber "core" conceived as a piece of furniture. This contains the raked auditorium seating and the control room. The rake is constructed in concrete and acoustically shields the various services in the semi-basement beneath to achieve a very high acoustic performance.
Extensive use of European oak, combined with stone and white plaster, has brought a serene sense of unity to the space. This, combined with a fully glazed gable end and celeste windows along the length of the walls, gives the feeling of sitting within the garden itself.
The space is environmentally controlled, with energy use minimised by the installation of ground source heat pumps for both heating and cooling.
Realising a building of this quality relies on a combination of careful planning, precise detailing and fine workmanship .That this has been achieved is a tribute to all members of the team committed to the vision for the building.