The next in a series looking at the building details that have impressed and inspired our readers. Today: Teresa Borsuk of Pollard Thomas Edwards
Architect Ahrends, Burton and Koralek (ABK)
Building De Breyne and Hayward Buildings, Keble College, Oxford (1971-77)
Section through glazed wall
Honey-coloured bricks and pavers, and bronze-painted aluminium patent glazing angled over a half-sunken walkway coiling around a grassed courtyard… This detail still evokes one of my earliest memorable architectural experiences – a walk through this cloister at Ahrends, Burton and Koralek’s extension to Keble College, Oxford. What has stayed with me is its overall simplicity; the restricted palette of materials and an elegant section.
The wall, battered for structural efficiency, retains the grassed garden beyond. Inside and outside flow freely. The angle works delightfully – opening out the walkway to the sky, enhancing the sense of space and enabling a simple, efficient and orthogonal relationship with the patent glazing bars and glass. The section is maintained through the walkway’s sinuous course. The geometry is clever.
The contrast between the open and lightweight, and the closed and more solid – the light canopy perched over a masonry and concrete base and the juxtaposition of masonry, concrete and glass – is typical of ABK’s work. The assembly and layering of the various components is uncomplicated and rational. It’s a contextual Modernism.
Abk keeble 3
The sparseness of the detail is certainly of its time. No one here was too concerned with cold-bridging and Psi or U-values… I haven’t been back in a while. I wonder how it has fared.
Teresa Borsuk is senior partner at Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects and winner of 2015 Woman Architect of the Year. For information about entering the 2017 awards, click here.
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