Tracing tradition in Oxford

Nick Myall
Friday 18 May 2018

Design Engine have completed the Hubert Perrodo Building at St Peter’s College, Oxford

Multi award-winning architects Design Engine have completed the Hubert Perrodo Building at St Peter’s College, University of Oxford, in the UK, thus marking the completion of Phase 2 of the Perrodo Project. The building was officially opened by the Chancellor of the University of Oxford Lord Patten of Barnes along with St Peter’s Master, Mark Damazer CBE, and members of the Perrodo family, whose generous donation to the college, one of the largest in its history, has made the work possible.

Beginning in August 2014, the Perrodo Project has resulted in a transformation of the College’s public and teaching spaces. As part of the wider project, this brand-new building – now officially known as the Hubert Perrodo Building – has a quiet study space on the ground floor, six en-suite bedrooms and a meeting room on the top floor with a roof terrace that offers superb views over the College and beyond. It is the first multi-level building to be built on the College’s main campus in twenty years.

The new building is a three-storey pavilion with a set-back fourth storey. The height reflects the surrounding buildings: both the New Building and the Chavasse Building that define the Chavasse Quad. The arrangement of functions is intended to replicate those of Chavasse with communal spaces on the ground floor opening onto the re-landscaped quad with private study rooms above. 

Design Engine: Hubert Perrodo Building, Oxford from Stephenson / Bishop on Vimeo.

This division in the use of spaces on different floors could present an incoherent façade but the applied ‘veil‘ or screen helps unify it and give coherence to the different levels and uses. An open filligree of square section ceramic rods constitute the primary facade and make reference to the stone tracery evident in a number of existing buildings on site. The ceramic has a natural finish chosen to match the texture and tone of the stone. The ceramic is layered in front of a bronze-coloured metal cladding which has been chosen to match the colour of the existing brick buildings.

“Unifying the complexity of the brief within this historic but tight site was an exciting challenge. Working closely with the local planning authorities we were able to satisfy the planning demands of this beautiful city while maximizing the potential of the site. As the completion of the final elevation to the re-landscaped quad, the new building needed a presence of its own while respecting its (listed) neighbours. We hope we have designed a building which is contemporary in nature but achieves the same richness of façade evident in the surrounding quad, which will continue the tradition of quality architecture within St Peters College.” Richard James, Project Architect, Design Engine.

James Graham, Bursar, St Peter’s College, said, "What we liked about the design is that it fulfilled its purpose… but it was ambitious. I don't think that most architectural practices would have been as ambitious and I'm not sure most colleges would have been as ambitious either."

The Hubert Perrodo Building has already been Highly Commended in the Project of the Year category of the Oxfordshire Property Awards and is currently shortlisted for a RIBA 2018 Award.

Nick Myall

News editor

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