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Thursday 19 Jul 2012
Berman Guedes Stretton completes restoration of Brutalist house in Oxford
A building study in 1963 featured a group of three newly built houses for St. John’s College, near the centre of Oxford. The development was praised as ‘uncompromisingly modern’ with ‘welcome consistency in the design’ and an ‘apparent confidence’. The black quarry tiles used throughout as the finish to the ground floor ‘look extremely handsome’. The author liked the wall finishes that ‘ring the changes between white fair faced brick and plaster painted white, with considerable areas of stained timber doors and fittings. The result is an admirably restrained yet positive background’.
In 2011 the college decided to renovate the buildings which were vacant and plans were presented to update them in a more ‘traditional’ British house style. However, recognising the architectural significance of the houses the appointed architects, Berman Guedes Stretton, were able propose a set of works which would restore the houses, as near as possible, to their original Brutalist glory. This unusual project is characteristic of Berman Guedes Stretton with their expertise in restoration and refurbishment.
Brutalism is not commonly favoured but BGS’ knowledge allowed them to propose works that revealed the qualities of the architectural style. All new electrical outlets were installed but carefully positioned in plastered areas so they did not interrupt the feature walls of fair faced brickwork. Black quarry tiles, originally intended to be removed, were exposed, restored and polished. The wood panelling has been restored and polished. A new kitchen and modern bathrooms have been installed that are sympathetic to the distinctive look of the house.