Grade II-listed building considered one of John Partridge's finest works

Oxford council has approved plans by heritage specialist Purcell to revamp a grade II-listed building at St Antony’s College.

The Hilda Besse building was completed in 1970 by John Partridge, a partner at post-war architecture practice HKPA (Howell, Killick, Partridge & Amis). 

Writing Partridge's obituary in the Guardian in 2016, architectural historian Geraint Franklin described it as "probably his finest built work... an essay in how each part comes together to make an intricate yet ordered whole".

It is the first time the building, which won an RIBA and Concrete Society award a year after it opened, will have received a large-scale refurbishment. Works will involve cleaning and repairing the exterior, while octagonal ceiling rafts will be reinstated.

Matthew Tromans, senior architect at Purcell, said: "The architectural value of the building is rooted in the integrity of its design and materiality, with the principal spaces and many of their original finishes surviving, albeit in varying conditions.

"The high levels of natural light permitted into these spaces, as well as repeated design and structural motifs, emphasise the building’s post-war architecture.

"As such, Purcell’s light-touch approach to the conservation and renovation of the building’s brutalist architecture will maintain the honesty of the original design intent while ensuring its longevity as a valuable building for years to come."

The proposal also includes plans to re-landscape the college quad, in collaboration with Churchman Thornhill Finch.

Zaha Hadid completed a striking stainless steel "bridge" building at St Antony's in 2015 and Bennetts Associates designed two new buildings there which opened in 2013.

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