In 2012 we were shortlisted in an invited competition for St Cross College, Oxford. The College occupies a beautiful and central site on St Giles, with fine buildings from the early and late 20th century. The brief called for the design of new buildings to complete the northern and western edges of one of its two quads; these would accommodate bedrooms, work spaces, a library, a café, a lecture theatre, meeting rooms and ancillary spaces, thus ensuring that the College can meet the academic and social needs of its staff and students.
We were impressed by the College’s non-hierarchical ethos and friendly, informal atmosphere. In our designs, every effort was made to consider the needs of postgraduate students, many of whom are a long way from home.
Our proposal maximises the potential of the site with finely detailed accommodation that complements and enhances the existing buildings, gardens and townscape, retaining as much open space as possible. The proposal provides the College with fifty comfortable and desirable en-suite study bedrooms designed to make the most of the relationship with the outside. A deep, timber-framed window in each bedroom frames views into the central quadrangle or out to neighbouring buildings. The window allows each student to control the internal environment through a series of movable external shutters, and also acts as a beautifully crafted piece of bespoke furniture at the threshold between private and public space.