H B Allen Centre, Keble College

H B Allen Centre, Keble College

The H B Allen Centre for Keble College is one of central Oxford’s largest current developments and will see the creation of a 12,250m2 building on the large site bounding Woodstock and Banbury Roads. On behalf of Keble, our team were able to secure consent for 284 student bedrooms, a collaborative learning centre, library, research centre, and cafe focussed around an open 21st century Oxford Quadrangle.

Client

Keble College

Location

Oxford, UK

Size

1.7 ha

Value

£45m

The new H B Allen Centre for Keble College is located between the Banbury and Woodstock Roads, five minutes’ walk from the main curtilage. This site is within the North Oxford Conservation Area, whose character is markedly different from the closely grained development of central Oxford. The area has a suburban sense of openness in contrast to the walled enclosures that typify the city’s historic colleges.

The scheme mediates between the quantity of accommodation required by the brief and the retention of an appropriate scale, and sense of connection to the street that is required within the conservation area.

The new building offers 12,250m2 of new facilities, from individual student rooms to multi-room apartments, a range of scales and styles of teaching accommodation, flexible-use theatres, cafes and catering facilities. These are united into a single complex whose modest street scale belies the wealth of accommodation provided.

Using principles proven at Keble’s main site, the building maximises the use of the entire site and incorporates the 1867 Grade II listed building by Thomas Jackson. By developing around the perimeter of the site, it follows Keble's original Butterfield approach, creating a large central open space - Keble's 'Sixth Quad'. The ingenious landscaping of the Quad draws a thread that connects the Banbury and Woodstock Roads, allowing level pedestrian access between them, and to the communal facilities that open onto the gently varying ground level. Sunken gardens are excavated so that lower levels of accommodation, such as libraries, seminar rooms and research spaces are filled with natural light.

The strategy exemplifies skill in recognising and realising the value and potential in the space offered by a site. In common with our work at the main curtilage, and elsewhere in Oxford, the development of the Sixth Quad has involved the preparation and successful submission of detailed applications for Planning and Listed Building Consent.

Stuart Cade Project Director for Rick Mather Architects; completed by MICA team

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