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Levete wins Wadham College student centre contest

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Amanda Levete’s practice AL_A has won an invited competition for two new buildings at Christopher Wren’s alma mater – Wadham College, University of Oxford

The star architect’s London practice defeated Cooke Fawcett, Wilkinson Eyre and Design Engine to land the prestigious commission for the historic constituent college of the University of Oxford.

The appointment comes three years after AL_A was shortlisted in a seperate contest to upgrade social spaces at nearby Oriel College which was won by Allies and Morrison.

Backed by benefactors William Doo and Lee Shau Kee – the project will replace the Wadham College’s existing Junior Common Room and Goddard Buildings with a new undergraduate centre and aspiration centre.

The William Doo Undergraduate Centre will improve facilities for Wadham’s 450 undergraduate students while the aspiration centre, known as the Dr Lee Shau Kee Building, will host visiting school students participating in the college’s access programme.

Wadham College warden Ken Macdonald said: ‘These exciting and inspirational buildings will radically improve our ability to reach out to groups of potential applicants and will enrich the experience of students while they are studying at Wadham.

‘Putting the William Doo Undergraduate Centre and the Dr Lee Shau Kee Building at the heart of the college site will articulate Wadham’s values, representing our openness and commitment to excellence.’

Amanda Levete, director at AL_A said: ‘This project goes to the heart of what makes Wadham an exceptional educational community. The Dr Lee Shau Kee Building is an ambitious investment in the future, an investment in people who are not yet members of the college.

‘The William Doo Undergraduate Centre is recognition of the huge importance of social spaces – because these are places where students will meet friends and collaborators for life. We look forward to working with the fellows, staff, students and future students of Wadham to realise these ambitions.’

Founded in 1610 by Nicholas and Dorothy Wadham – Wadham College is today one of the largest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford with 200 graduate and 450 undergraduate students. Notable alumni include Christopher Wren who designed the Sheldonian Theatre nearby and St Paul’s Cathedral in London. 

The main college building was designed by William Arnold and other landmark buildings on the historic city centre campus include the 1790 Holywell Music Room by Thomas Camplin, the Bowra Building by MJP and a library by Gillespie, Kidd & Coia.


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