Every Oxford college is a variation of this typology. Alison Brooks Architects’ new 6000 m² Cohen Quad will expand Exeter College’s 700 years old campus in the heart of Oxford, with undergraduate and graduate living accommodation for 90 students, an auditorium, seminar rooms, social learning spaces, archive, café, roof terraces, offices and fellows’ accommodation.
ABA’s S-shaped building is organised around two new courtyards connected by a three-dimensional ambulatory. This is a narrative route that connects the college’s public and courtyard spaces with a series of cloisters, amphitheatre staircases, landings and garden walks – places for gathering and scholarly exchange.
A multi-level commons space at the centre of the S-shaped plan is the new Quad’s social heart, opening onto both courtyards. The quads’ public spaces are represented by a two-storey stone clad ‘base’, while student rooms and fellows studies are enclosed by patterned stainless steel that folds across wall and roof surfaces. The over-riding concept of a ‘scholarly home’ is characterised by this all-embracing curved roof, marking the new Quad on Oxford’s skyline while providing unique loft study and living spaces.
Alison Brooks Architects won the project in an international competition in 2011; the building will be complete in early 2017.
Photo credits: Paul Riddle, Hufton & Crow, Alison Brooks Architects