- St Hilda’s College, University of Oxford
Low carbon living, that will stay true to the informal character of St Hilda’s grounds
St Hilda’s College has the ambition to ensure that all students, both undergraduate and graduates who wish to live in College accommodation, are able to be housed on-site. The College believe strongly in the emotional support this provides to students.
The proposal consists of two new student accommodation buildings containing 73 student bedrooms including wheelchair-accessible facilities, improved on-site welfare facilities, a new gym, music teaching space and offices. The proposal also includes the demolition and replacement of the existing Principal’s Lodgings accommodation.
The develeopment will utilise sustainable engineered timber construction and Passivhaus technology to create an examplar of modern collegiate living. The design will stay true to the informal character of St Hilda’s grounds. Rather than one large building, the needs of the College are met across three buildings, each responding sensitively to the landscape and maintaining space and views between them.
The site and design approach
- project manager:
- structural engineer:
- Engineers HRW
- quantity surveyor:
- Ridge & Partners
- acoustic consultant:
- Sandy Brown
- landscape consultant:
- Land Use Consultants
- Design Engine Architects
- planning consultant:
To avoid closing up the corner of the site and maintain views out to the meadow, the student accommodation is split into two buildings. Both accommodation buildings have rooms which radiate around their central core and offer a range of views out as well as benefitting from natural light in the corridors.
The project consists of:
The ‘Meadow’ Building
A part three- and four-storey building with 42 student bedrooms and communal spaces. The Meadow Building is at the centre of the proposals with ceramic cladding achieving visual variation through a range of depths of fin and criss-cross patterning along with glazes and reflective surfaces. The top line of the building is shaped to establish a visual marker at the built edge of the campus.
The ‘Villa’ Building
A four-storey building with 30 student bedrooms plus a gym, health and welfare facilities and an office for the neighbouring Jacqueline du Pré (JdP) Building. A sibling building to the Meadow Building, materials and window details follow a similar theme. The top floor is articulated in plan and elevation in a bronze surface to provide a varied top line and parity with its sibling.
Replacement of the existing Principal’s Lodgings
The Lodgings will be re-provided on site in a new, smaller riverside house, freeing up space for student-focused development that the College needs.
A smaller house than the existing Lodgings, its west-facing living spaces and garden will attract afternoon sunshine with views over the River Cherwell. A brick gable elevation and chimney are presented to the river frontage.
Interior design and materiality
It’s a great privilege to be given the opportunity to contribute to this unique riverside setting with a series of buildings that complete the edge of the college before it transitions into meadow and rural landscape. The adoption of Passivhaus and low carbon construction will contribute to what we hope will become an exemplar in contemporary student accommodationDavid Gausden \ Director at Design Engine
Internally, the buildings are all related in their layout, and with a strong relationship to the existing Garden Building. All three buildings have rooms which radiate around their central core and offer a range of views out as well as benefitting from natural light in the corridors.
On visiting the site in the early stages of the project, we felt that the bay windows to the existing Garden Building student bedrooms were an unusual and generous feature, giving students a stronger relationship with the wider College site and views beyond.
Each student bedroom includes a bay window seat which has an opening vent panel for purge ventilation in summer, part of the passive cooling strategy. Each bay window also includes a sliding louvre screen which can be used to both shades the rooms in the hotter summer months and provide more privacy during the day. At night, there is a roller blind which allows the seat to still be used.
The materials palette for the Principal’s Lodgings consists of buff brickwork, bronze anodised roof panels and glazed frames and elements of greener stone.
The materials palette for the Meadow Building primarily consists of ceramic cladding to the four-storey element with lots of depth in the use of projecting fins and surface colour and reflection. Glazed frames will match the bronze finish used on Villa Building. The three-storey element of the Meadow Building will match the lower three-storeys of the Villa Building with buff brickwork and bronze glazing frames. The ceramic used for the four-storey cladding will also be used within the window assemblies.
The materials palette for the Villa Building consists of buff coloured brickwork, anodised bronze aluminium for glazed frames and the top floor cladding, and ceramic elements to the windows to tie in with the Meadow Building.
The student accommodation buildings will be designed to Passivhaus standards with an extremely airtight design including triple-glazing for enhanced occupant comfort. Heat recovery systems will be included with the ability to add further low-energy technologies later on.
The structural frame of the student accommodation buildings will be cross-laminated timber (CLT) which is low in embodied carbon, in contrast to more traditional construction methods. The CLT will also be exposed internally in places, bringing a natural finish to the interiors.
This project will give St Hilda’s College the final tranche of new student rooms that ensures we remain competitive with other colleges when offering all undergraduates accommodation for all years of their first degree. The buildings have been set in our bucolic gardens and riverside location in a way that enhances the experience both of our immediate gardens and grounds and the wider landscape running up to the edge of the City of OxfordNeil Hyatt \ Head of Buildings & Projects, St Hilda’s College