Somerville College – Student Accommodation Buildings

Two residential blocks for undergraduate students (Niall McLaughlin Architects, 2011)

The long, narrow form of these buildings, which provide 68 ensuite student rooms, is dictated by the available site, 175 m. long and just 6 m. deep. The new blocks abut the backs of older college buildings, and define the southern boundary of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, fronting onto a new street space also designed by McLaughlin. The ends of the blocks are marked by five storey, glazed stair towers, with the windows framed by a deep timber lattice, and the gap between the blocks forms a new entrance to the college site. Two materials dominate the form and colour of the buildings: a dark red brick consciously references Keble College, while a light coloured oak is used for the lattice frames and for distinctive bay windows, reflecting those of Philip Dowson’s Wolfson Building on Walton Street (1968).

References: Tom Holbrook, “A student residence draws on picturesque planning traditions to make a new street for the city”, Architecture Today, no. 226, March 2012.

Awards: RIBA Award 2012; Brick Award 2012

Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HD (best seen from the ROQ site)