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Wadham College, University of Oxford

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

Etched glass with different yet complementary effects distinguishes and links two new buildings at AL_A’s 2024 RIBA South Award-winning project

Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
Wadham College. Hufton and Crow

2024 RIBA South Award

Wadham College, University of Oxford
AL_A for Wadham College
Contract value: £13.5m
GIA: 2250m2
Cost per m2: £6,000

The architect has remastered the internal routes at the college, through a twinset building at the campus’s heart. A new Access Centre perches at the top of the steps, opening onto an existing terrace while bridging from it; linking two quads is the new Undergraduate Centre. The new buildings, while adjoining, required distinct identities, to respect two separate donors. The architect addressed this by using etched glass with two different yet complementary effects – a vertical motif with reflective back panels for the Access Centre, and a horizontal pattern with more transparency for the Undergraduate Centre. While completely other to the surrounding stone buildings, the material sits comfortably, gently reflecting its neighbours’ warm hues and stone markings. Through the bridged entrance where the two buildings converge, a red staircase and ramp stretch out to address the site’s changing levels, ensuring step-free access.

  • Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
    Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
  • Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
    Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
  • Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
    Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
  • Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
    Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
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The two buildings contain study spaces, student rooms, common rooms and even a music room just off the entrance, with a theatrical window. Student rooms offer enhanced accessibility options for the college, with over 25% of rooms being fully accessible.

The new structures sit on the foundations of a former building, with the plant room basement reused. Above ground, a steel frame is spanned by cross laminated timber (CLT) floors. At roof level the facade disguises an array of photovoltaic and solar thermal panels. The construction involved a number of prefabricated elements which had to consider constrained access through the arched gateway to the college, as well as navigating a number of mature trees that were retained. Through simple measures, and despite occupying a greater area than the previous building, energy use is significantly lower.

  • Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
    Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
  • Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
    Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
  • Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
    Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
  • Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
    Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
  • Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
    Wadham College. Hufton and Crow
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With simple but important moves to address the primary routes and accessibility across the site, the two buildings act conscientiously in this historic setting, enhancing access visually, physically and metaphorically.

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 Beard Construction
Structural engineer/environmental/M&E engineer Arup
Quantity surveyor/cost consultant Gleeds
Landscape architect Churchman Thornhill Finch
Acoustic engineer Arup
Lighting design Arup
Project management Bidwells
Planning consultant Turnberry

Credit: AL_A
Credit: AL_A
Credit: AL_A
Credit: AL_A
Credit: AL_A

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