st. catherine’s college phase II, oxford

Phase II of St. Catherine’s College comprises 132 study bedrooms, a new porters’ lodge, and four seminar rooms.

Strategically the study bedrooms are arranged around staircases in pavilion form and define a new courtyard. Four pavilions (3 containing study bedrooms, one the porters’ lodge and 4 seminar rooms) align with the west facing residential wing of the Arne Jacobsen buildings. This seeks to extend the horizontal composition of the College and represents a visual connection between new and old, reinforced by the linear front lawn extending into the new development which becomes a powerful visual spine to the composition. The pavilions sit on a plinth of concrete pavours in further response to the original.

The porters’ lodge, within the most southerly pavilion adjoining the crossing of the lawn with the access road to Merton College Sports Ground, becomes the new point of arrival at the College, optimising on the aspect to the south through the College gates and reconciling the ambiguity of entry that has always prevailed.

Three further pavilions are aligned in a direct east-west orientation enclosing the courtyard to the north. Eleven rooms, each at the west and east end of this arrangement, are turned through 90 degrees to align with the pervading grid of the College and offer aspects towards Holywell Mill Stream and the extension of the front lawn respectively.

Each pavilion is ventilated passively with solar gain being mitigated by horizontal cedar louvres to the lodge, and concrete fins to the study bedrooms, the later, together with the yellow ochre quarter-bonded brickwork, once again reference the original college buildings.

In all areas the architects have applied ingenuity and restraint, and considering the project was delivered under a hybrid design and build contract, those involved deserve to be extremely proud.”

Rob Gregory,
The Architectural Review,
May 2006