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Seats stripped from Oxford RIBA winner

Berman Guedes Stretton’s RIBA Award-winning Shulman Auditorium in Oxford is to have all of its seating stripped out following complaints by disgruntled students

The £3 million scheme for Queen’s College Oxford will have its 150 seats removed over the summer holidays so they can be adjusted to make them more comfortable; they will then be re-installed.

The college’s home bursar, Linda Irving-Bell said that following user feedback it was decided to change the specification of the chairs ‘to improve cushioning and leg room to enhance comfort’.

‘The college, architect and contractor are closely working together to review the alternatives and then implement this design amendment during the long vacation,’ she said.

As part of the works, writing tablets that were originally fitted to the rear of each chair will be relocated to one side. Irving-Bell said: ‘We are using the auditorium for far more musical events and dramatic performances than anticipated as the acoustics are wonderful, and we also like the idea of the tablet being out of the way and less visible when the auditorium is being used for performances.’

The college is planning to complete the works before Oxford University’s ‘long vacation’ ends in October.

The 3,506m² facility – featuring a pitched, slate roof and incorporating ancient stone walls – has been in use for a full academic year. The seating alterations have emerged just one month after the project won a high-profile RIBA national award and a RIBA sustainability award.

Alan Berman of Berman Guedes Stretton said: ‘It is not a big deal. It is a post-occupancy thing. There is now a preference for a different kind of chair. In terms of the total project everyone thinks it is fantastic.’

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