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Zaha Hadid reveals latest images of Oxford college scheme


[IMAGES + PROJECT DATA] The AJ can reveal exclusive shots of Zaha Hadid’s proposed new extension to the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, Oxford

The 1,200m2, curved, funnel-like addition, officially dubbed the Softbridge, was finally given full planning permission in March this year (2009), after issues with a redwood tree on the site were resolved.

The three-storey scheme, which will house a reading room, library, storage space and a lecture hall, has been designed to Stage E and is expected to go out to tender next year (2010). Explaining the future timetable, a spokesman said: ‘The state of the global economy has slowed down our funding, but we are still planning to break ground in 2011.’ 

Originally white in colour, the Corian cladding of the trumpet-like building was changed to a darker hue to appease the planners and CABE.

Project Data

Client: Middle East Centre, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects
Design team: Jim Heverin, Kenneth Bostock, Goswin Rothenthal, Theodora Ntatsopoulou, Saleem Abdil
Mireia Sala Font, Amita Kulkarni
Structural Engineers: Adams Kara Taylor
Mechanical/Electrical/Accoustics: Max Fordham
Lighting Design: Arup Lighting
Facade Consultants: Arup Facade Engineering
Cost Consultants: Sense Cost
Fire Engineers: Arup Fire
Planning Supervision: JPPC Oxford
Forestry and Arboriculture Consultant: Sarah Venner
Access: David Bonnet
Landscape: Gross Max
CDM: Andrew Goddard Associates


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Readers' comments (4)

  • I cant imagine the interior study/library area being a productive environment. The formula she seems to apply to most/all of her projects is engaging and suitably arresting when involved in the public/entertainment realm. Within an educational institution commonly regarded as a center for some of the worlds greatest thinkers I can only imagine it being a distraction from someone's concentration. It seems completely insensitive?

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  • Of course it is completely insensitive to context, this is Zaha. Curves curves, blob here, trumpet there etcetera etcetera.

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  • Everyone who thinks this project would be totally over budget and the lighting within unsuitable put their hands up!

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  • Sometimes this fluid sculptural approach works really well - but not here.

    Can't architects not be pluralistic?

    Would it not be ok to do orthonal sensitive one week and be fluid the next?

    I think that Zaha probably knows this was the wrong approach but is so intent on sticking to the formula for the sake of 'branding'. Why can't she do a Chipperfield style building once in a while if she thought it the best approach?

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