Now in their 38th year, the Oxford Preservation Trust Awards celebrate projects which contribute to the public domain and make the city thrive. The awards encourage everyone to share in the conservation projects, new buildings, landscape and community projects, large or small, which are adding to Oxford and its setting.
Founded in 1957, the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College serves as the University of Oxford’s facility for research and teaching on the Arab world, Iran, Israel and Turkey from the 19th century to the present day, with its focus on the research of humanities and social sciences. The centre has been housed at 68 Woodstock Road (the former rectory of the Church of St Philip and St James, built in 1887) since 1978.
The centre’s research core is the specialised library, document and photographic archive covering material from the 1800’s onwards. The work of the Middle East Centre contributes to the global discourse and greater understanding of the region. The new Investcorp Building connects disparate buildings within the college, defining a series of spaces for the centre’s renowned archive, library and seminar programmes; allowing the Middle East Centre to expand its commitment as a vital forum of research, understanding and open debate.
The objective for the environmental design strategy was to develop a space that was healthy and enjoyable, where both students and staff can develop and contribute to their maximum potential. With this in mind, the cooling strategy for the Lecture theatre included the area to be mechanically ventilated through a thermal labyrinth. This provided natural ground coupling for passive summertime temperature control.
Air is introduced under the seating and extracted at a high level, without depending on extensive energy systems. A similar strategy is used during the warmer months for the reading room. Serviced by ground coupling ventilation, this allows for passive summertime temperature control, making the space a comfortable environment for students. Great care was dedicated to the archive space. A ground source heat pump was incorporated into the design, providing active ground coupling.
The environment is controlled for both temperature and humidity, creating a secure setting protecting the prehistoric documents. With light being an important aspect of the design, daylighting was used via the roof lights. Light enters through the roof and into the main reading room creating a calm, approachable space.The aspiration was for a high performance, environmentally responsible building. Incorporating solidity and form, the area encourages people to stay exchange and learn.
Given the varied programme of the Middle East Centre – active foyer, library and reading room, auditorium, and administrative offices – there were a number of different acoustic considerations to be addressed. The over-arching strategy was the employment of unobtrusive acoustic treatments that effectively mitigated the transfer of noise and vibration.
The tight confines of the site required the auditorium to be located in close proximity to the plant-room in the subterranean floor of the Centre. Care was taken via a thick concrete separating wall and additional plaster board on the plant-room side of that wall to ensure undetectable acoustic intrusion. In the auditorium itself, a key element of acoustic absorption centred on the selection of the upholstered seats. Six different varieties that met the architect’s requirements for aesthetics were tested for appropriate acoustic properties before the best was selected.
Ventilation ducts under the stage in the auditorium are linked to an underground labyrinth. This passive air-cooling strategy mitigates the need for regular use of mechanical, and thus noisy, air-handling units. Elsewhere in the building, public spaces are dressed with beautiful timber slats that mask acoustically absorbing material behind them. The library and reading room are doubly blessed with the amenable acoustic properties inherently found in fully laden bookshelves. Given the bespoke nature of this beautiful building, great care was also taken in ensuring appropriate insulation against the noise generated by rainfall on the sloping roof.
The project posed several challenges related to the design and coordination of a three-dimensional curved form located between two existing buildings and in close proximity to the protected sequoia tree. In order to overcome this challenge AKTII implemented BIM technology, which allowed structural elements to be accurately positioned and coordinated within a three-dimensional curved envelope. This project provides a very good example of how contemporary construction and architecture can be executed within a space framed by traditional architecture. Source by Zaha Hadid Architects .
Location: Oxford, United Kingdom
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA)
Design (ZHA): Zaha Hadid
Project Director (ZHA): Jim Heverin
Project Associates (ZHA): Johannes Hoffmann, Ken Bostock
Project Architect (ZHA): Alex Bilton
ZHA Project Team (ZHA): Sara Klomps, Goswin Rothenthal, Andy Summers, George King, Luke Bowler, Barbara Bochnak, Yeena Yoon, Saleem A Jalil, Theodora Ntatsopoulou, Mireira Sala Font, Amita Kulkarni
Structural Engineer: AKTII
Mechanical/Electrical/Acoustic Engineer: Max Fordham
Client’s M&E Consultant: Elementa
Façade Supplier: Frener + Reifer
Façade Consultants: Arup Façade Engineering
Client’s Façade Consultant: Eckersley O’Callaghan
Project Manager: Bidwells
Lighting Design: Arup Lighting
Client: Middle East Centre, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford
Cost Consultants: Sense Cost Ltd.
Fire Engineers: Arup Fire
Planning Supervision: Jppc Oxford
Forestry & Arboriculture Consultant: Sarah Venner
Access: David Bonnet
Landscape Design: Gross Max
CDM: Andrew Goddard Associates
Photographs: Luke Hayes, FRENER + REIFER, Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects