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Cheng Yu Tung Building, Jesus College, Oxford

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

This 2024 RIBA South Award-winning new piece of city by MICA Architects contains the retail and commercial components of a typical high street in one university building

Cheng Yu Tung Building, Jesus College Oxford. MICA Architects
Cheng Yu Tung Building, Jesus College Oxford. MICA Architects

2024 RIBA South Award

Cheng Yu Tung Building, Jesus College Oxford
MICA Architects for Jesus College
David Stevenson

Contract value: £34m
GIA: 8090m2
Cost per m2: £4,203

In central Oxford you might expect to find university buildings nestled among shops, bars and perhaps a doctors’ surgery, but rarely do all these uses coalesce in a single building. Yet the Cheng Yu Tung Building delivers all this and more. It is both one and many, with different faces to suit; a new piece of city for Jesus College. The retail and commercial frontage on Cornmarket Street is detailed with Clipsham stone – historically used across the college – with reference to traditional details. But the biggest change is seen from Market Street, where the former blank facades have been transformed into a new entrance for the college, with a healthcare centre tucked beneath. Through the integrated gatehouse, with a new tower looming above, is a new digital hub, student accommodation, study rooms and even a raised quad.

  • Cheng Yu Tung Building,  Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
    Cheng Yu Tung Building, Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
  • Cheng Yu Tung Building,  Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
    Cheng Yu Tung Building, Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
  • Cheng Yu Tung Building,  Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
    Cheng Yu Tung Building, Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
  • Cheng Yu Tung Building,  Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
    Cheng Yu Tung Building, Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
1234

Off Market Street you immediately enter a sculptural void with an auditorium at the base and flexible spaces spiralling around an open staircase. This is the new digital hub, a tiered forum which allows the university to host interdisciplinary research and events, from gaming conferences to music performances. Beyond is a study centre which leads to the new quad, unusually sited on the second floor. This raised terrace is broadly surrounded by student rooms, where stone doorways are still chalked with numbers, and a café opens out to create a social study space. A roof terrace flanks one side where four Fellows’ flats overlook the gables of the historic quads. Above, the tower room is elevated both atop the rooftops and through its panelled interior with double-height volume, creating a dramatic culmination to the building.

As well as bringing together a myriad of uses, the building integrates sustainable strategies – from ground-source heat pumps incorporated in the existing foundations, to photovoltaic panels concealed among the roofscape. The concrete foundations were reused and, with the stone cladding and upper floors constructed using cross-laminated timber (CLT), the embodied carbon of the building has been significantly reduced.

  • Cheng Yu Tung Building, Jesus College Oxford. Ed Nix
    Cheng Yu Tung Building, Jesus College Oxford. Ed Nix
  • Cheng Yu Tung Building,  Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
    Cheng Yu Tung Building, Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
  • Cheng Yu Tung Building,  Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
    Cheng Yu Tung Building, Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
  • Cheng Yu Tung Building,  Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
    Cheng Yu Tung Building, Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
  • Cheng Yu Tung Building,  Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
    Cheng Yu Tung Building, Jesus College Oxford. Jim Stephenson
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All these moves seem straightforward, but the architect has had to overcome a challenging city centre site with sub-optimum orientation, archaeology and heritage constraints, and the diverse needs of students, the public and commercial operations. MICA's steady hand is evident throughout, guiding the client through the process, from masterplanning the site to researching details and value-engineering. The team has a created a college building that is not just part of the city, but open to it.

See the rest of the RIBA South winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor BAM Construction
Structural engineer Smith & Wallwork
Environmental/M&E engineer Introba
Quantity surveyor/ cost consultant Gleeds
Employer’s agent Bidwells

 

Credit: MICA Architects
Credit: MICA Architects
Credit: MICA Architects
Credit: MICA Architects
Credit: MICA Architects
Credit: MICA Architects

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