'Scholarly Home' for Oxford students

Thursday 24 Nov 2011

Alison Brooks Architects' vision of Oxford University third quad overcomes competition

In a recent competition to determine the appropriate designers for an intended extension to Exeter College campus Alison Brooks Architects have emerged triumphant. To acquire this opportunity, Alison Brooks successfully competed against several other eminent architectural practices, including Haworth Tompkins and Wright & Wright.

Their latest challenge was to envision the outlook for a ‘third quad’ for the Oxford University. The resulting solution strongly incorporates two new courtyards, with a 3-dimensional ambulatory connecting the two, acting as a means for its students to traverse. It is intended that the various public spaces colouring the college’s sprawling campus could be more effectively united, utilising as a narrative route a series of cloisters, amphitheatre staircases and garden walks, amongst other visual walkways.

At the project’s epicentre is devised a multi-level commons space, described as the social heart of the overall S-shaped design. Aiming to install an impression of a 'scholarly home' to those residing in its midst, elements such as a curved roof have been highlighted as effective means towards achieving this all-embracing intention; an ideal objective to help promote community spirit amongst the approximately 100 undergraduates and graduates that will be housed in its midst.

In addition to offering student living space and aesthetically pleasing pathways, the modern open-plan structure will accommodate a lecture hall, teaching rooms, social spaces and study facilities. Impetus naturally placed on invoking a sense of harmony, as well as learning. In parts incorporating amalgamations of traditionalist suggestive red-brick walls, and modern expansive glass-patchwork, the culminating result is a structure of obvious prominence and stature that assimilates itself to the notoriously historical nature of Oxford.

Tom Aston

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