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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

St Antony’s College in Oxford, England by Bennetts Associates Architects

 
July 16th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Bennetts Associates Architects

Two new buildings by Bennetts Associates have recently been completed for St Antony’s College in Oxford.
The five-storey Gateway Buildings are a significant addition to St Antony’s estate, defining a new presence for the College on one of the main routes serving the city centre. The project comprises a new main entrance, Porters’ Lodge, 54 en-suite study bedrooms, offices for
College staff and meeting/work space within glazed rooftop pavilions.

Image Courtesy © Huffton + Crow

  • Architects: Bennetts Associates Architects
  • Project: St Antony’s College
  • Location: Oxford, England
  • Photography: Huffton + Crow
  • Client: St Antony’s College
  • Engineer: Buro Happold
  • Quantity Surveyor: Northcroft
  • Contractor: Kingerlee

Image Courtesy © Huffton + Crow

St Antony’s is one of Oxford University’s newer Colleges but the estate previously suffered a lack of presence and a disparate grouping of buildings at odds with its highly acclaimed academic reputation. Bennetts Associates’ design has addressed these issues in a highly
symbolic manner that roots St Antony’s firmly in the Oxford College tradition.

Image Courtesy © Huffton + Crow

The new buildings announce the location of the College prominently on the Woodstock Road, frame an engaging main entrance sequence and enclose the central quadrangle for the very first time. In combination with a strong contemporary expression, the physical identity of St Antony’s has been transformed and now sits confidently amongst its peers.

Image Courtesy © Huffton + Crow

Bennetts Associates’ design responds to its context both within the St Antony’s estate and the North Oxford Conservation Area. The latter is characterised by a language of wide streets lined with mature trees and large villas, where the gaps between offer enticing glimpses to the gardens beyond. Breaking the brief and the massing of the Gateway Buildings into two is in direct response to this character and allows the creation of the engaging entry sequence.

Image Courtesy © Huffton + Crow

The two buildings are carefully positioned in relation to the neighbouring Grade II listed buildings. The 1960s Hilda Besse building is enclosed and revealed in a way that evokes the wider masterplan it was originally intended to be part of. The positioning of the southerly block of the Gateway Buildings allows the ornate gable of Main Building – a former convent – to remain visible and respects the setting of the fine mature chestnut trees on Woodstock Road.

Image Courtesy © Huffton + Crow

The roofline consciously echoes the animation of Main Building and large Victorian houses in the area, whilst the palette of Cotswold stone, bronze and walnut is intended to be both timeless and contemporary. The listed perimeter wall has been reconfigured to create a new entrance forecourt.

Image Courtesy © Huffton + Crow

Internally, the design approach again combines modernity with tradition. The upper floors of each of the two blocks accommodate the graduate rooms, arranged in nine clusters or ‘houses’ of six rooms around a kitchen and staircase, following the long-established
‘Oxbridge’ model. The staircases which link the clusters are spirals of finely crafted walnut, with high quality finishes and fixtures continued throughout the kitchens and en-suite rooms.

Image Courtesy © Huffton + Crow

The Gateway Buildings are highly sustainable and include a range of features from passive design principles such as sensible glazing ratios, natural ventilation and planted roofs to renewables systems such as ground source heat pumps fed from pipework under the
lawned quadrangle and solar arrays for hot water production – the main energy demand in student residences.

Image Courtesy © Huffton + Crow

The Warden of St Antony’s Professor Margaret MacMillan, said: “This is a hugely important project for the College both in terms of the increased accommodation, and related income stream it brings us, but also in giving us a new identity that enhances the confidence and
pride amongst Fellows, staff, and students. We are delighted with the design and the quality of the finished product and are sure that the Gateway Buildings will greatly aid us in what is becoming an increasingly competitive global market for post-graduate education.”

Image Courtesy © Huffton + Crow

Bennetts Associates Director Julian Lipscombe added: “It is enormously satisfying to add our first completed project to the rich architectural showcase of this remarkable city. The placing of the buildings and the spaces they define have been carefully crafted to transform the experience of visiting and inhabiting the College. We feel the ensemble is both confidently contemporary and quintessentially ‘Oxford’ in its character.”

Image Courtesy © Huffton + Crow

About Bennetts Associates
Founded in 1987, Bennetts Associates is one of the UK’s leading architectural practices, with more than 125 awards for a wide variety of projects.
The firm is currently around 70 strong in total including 5 directors plus architectural and support staff. In addition to a main office in London, the firm has an office in Edinburgh. A strong team ethic, methodical approach to design and sense of enjoyment are central to an exceptional track record of consistent delivery on time and to budget.

Image Courtesy © Huffton + Crow

The Practice’s portfolio represents a consistent body of work that is functional, well built, and architecturally striking. Bennetts Associates is especially well regarded for its pioneering work on sustainability, which is embedded in the firm’s own activities as well as its projects.
The Practice’s portfolio covers many sectors and the projects undertaken by the practice have ranged from around £1m to £200m, including new-build, refurbishment and restoration of listed buildings. This diversity is an important stimulus for best practice and
innovation in all aspects of the practice’s workload.

Image Courtesy © Huffton + Crow

The firm has been responsible for many prominent projects such as Hampstead Theatre, Edinburgh University’s Potterrow Development, Jubilee Library in Brighton, the New Street Square Development in the City of London, PowerGen Headquarters, Wessex Water Operations Centre, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Transformation, and Mint Hotels in London and Amsterdam. Excellence, combined with sustainability, is at the heart of all Bennetts Associates’ work.

Image Courtesy © Huffton + Crow

Image Courtesy © Bennetts Associates Architects

Image Courtesy © Bennetts Associates Architects

Image Courtesy © Bennetts Associates Architects

Image Courtesy © Bennetts Associates Architects

Image Courtesy © Bennetts Associates Architects

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