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AL_A completes two new buildings for Oxford University's Wadham College
United Kingdom Architecture News - Apr 14, 2021 - 10:07 5272 views
The RIBA Stirling Prize-winning architect Amanda Levete's firm AL_A has completed two major buildings at the centre of Wadham College's historic Oxford site.
The two new buildings, William Doo Undergraduate Centre and the Dr Lee Shau Kee Building will be inaugurated this month at Oxford University.
The new buildings will create a state-of-the art Undergraduate Centre on the Wadham site, as well as an Access Centre to accommodate the increasing number of visiting school students attending access and outreach events such as summer schools and aspiration days.
The Undergraduate Centre is a recognition of the huge importance of social spaces in today’s universities, which combines a junior common room, café and bar and beautiful daylit work areas.
While the Access Centre has been designed as an ambitious investment in the future, the building will offer a place to prospective students to live for three or four days and is designed to encourage pupils from all backgrounds to aspire to an Oxford education.
The building contains a suite of light-filled seminar rooms and a music room on the ground floor, while the top floors incorporate student accommodation.
The development, built by Oxford based builders Beard, is part of Wadham’s Access to Excellence programme where students are supported at every step of their educational journey, from the moment they consider applying to University, through their time at Oxford and on into their careers.
"These two buildings are designed to radiate openness. Modest in scale, but high in aspiration, they express the liberal and egalitarian values of the College and create a sense of belonging for students and staff," said Amanda Levete, Principal, AL_A.
"Reflecting changes in the way students work and socialise, they are open and transparent, and use the life of the College to animate the buildings," Levete added.
"These wonderful new buildings make real our twin desires: to reflect the beauty of our ancient site and to symbolise our College’s determination to engage with confidence in the promise of the modern world," said Warden of Wadham College, Ken Macdonald QC.
The William Doo Undergraduate Centre and Dr Lee Shau Kee Building now stand as graceful and pure marks of our continuing belief in the harmony that exists between learning and beauty, which our quadrangles, lawns and gardens express so well, and which AL_A have captured with such skill and sensitivity," Macdonald QC added.
Founded in 1610 by Nicholas and Dorothy Wadham, the College now comprises up to 250 graduate students and some 450 undergraduates.
Wadham’s architectural heritage spans a variety of building styles from the classical Oxford Gothic of the original buildings to the new development by AL_A inaugurated in 2021.
AL_A was founded in 2009 by Amanda Levete CBE with Directors Ho-Yin Ng, Alice Dietsch and Maximiliano Arrocet.
AL_A completed the world’s first porcelain courtyard at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) in Lisbon is one of the key projects of AL_A completed in 2016.
AL_A is currently working on a prototype fusion facility for General Fusion.
All images © Hufton + Crow
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