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Friday18 August 2017

Hadid's Oxford union

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Zaha Hadid Architects has revealed designs for an extension to the Middle East Centre at St Anthony’s College, Oxford.

The centre occupies two historic buildings in a Victorian suburb, and Hadid’s scheme aims to link the pair.

Set over three storeys, the Softbridge Building, which is at a pre-planning stage, is clad in composite glass, which can take a variety of finishes, and will be fabricated off site.

A model of the scheme, which was exhibited before Christmas, met with concern from the Oxfordshire Architectural & Historical Society and the Oxford Civic Society. They questioned whether the design was appropriate for the context.

The scheme features reception and exhibition areas on the ground floor, accessed via a semi-sunken forecourt. The main reading room will be on the first floor, along with the storage area for the library, while the library itself will be on the second floor.

A basement area will boast further storage space and a state-of-the-art lecture hall.

The design also features a series of skylights to increase natural daylight in the library, while the south-facing facade of the archive reading room has fritted glass windows which control solar gain.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • As a former architecture student, now studying at Oxford, I think this would be a win for St. Antony's, Oxford and the whole of the Thames Valley. The most remarkable piece of contemporary architecture around here is (maybe) the Said Business School... and that's awful. This folly is beautiful, but subtle. It isn't Foster's gerkin and won't tower over the city like a malicious slap at the dreaming spires. Few will see it but those who seek it out, and I anticipate they will number in the dozens per day. I say we welcome Zaha with open arms.

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  • More excellence from a brilliant architect; someone from the RIBA perhaps ought to officially inform both the Oxfordshire Architectural & Historical Society and the Oxford Civic Society that the design is exceptionally most appropriate for the context if they knew what hit them. Look around you and explain to yourselves how neo-Gothicism came to live side by side with Greek and Roman neo-Classicism.

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  • Well done Z and good luck again. It would be welcome if the RIBA for once informed the said Oxfordshire Architectural & Historical and the Oxford Civic Learned Societies that Z's design was most "appropriate to the setting" as in other architects' neo-gothic, neo-classical or neo-vernacular, whatever that may have meant at any time.

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