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MICA submits plans for £36m Oxford college project

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AJ100 practice MICA has lodged a planning application for a £36 million mixed-use shopping, teaching space and student housing project for Jesus College in Oxford

The 8,780m² scheme at the corner of Cornmarket Street and Market Street in Oxford town centre, which will replace the 1963 Northgate House, also includes a new ‘fourth’ quad and gatehouse for the expanding 450-year-old institution.

The proposals are part of the college’s strategic plan 2017-2021, and feature an innovative digital hub to ‘promote interdisciplinary research and knowledge exchange’.

According to the practice – formerly Rick Mather Architects – the development will allow the college to ‘accommodate increased student numbers, resulting from its introduction of computer science and an expansion of postgraduate places’ and to deliver ‘improved space for students and staff’.

MICA also claims the project will kick-start further improvements along Market Street and effectively transform the college’s ‘back’ into a new ‘front’, ‘better connecting the campus with the surrounding streets and stitching the new building into the existing fabric’.

Historic England said it supported the plans and had ‘no concerns’ about the demolition of the 1960s block. It described MICA’s proposed replacement as a ‘well-designed and careful contemporary response’.

The Oxford Civic Society, meanwhile, called the designs ‘bold’, but admitted ‘some doubts existed about the pairings of windows for the study bedrooms on the second and third floors which bear no relationship to any historical precedent on the street’.

Subject to approval, the scheme is scheduled to complete in 2020.

Project data

Location Jesus College, Market Street, Cornmarket Street, Oxford OX1 3DW
Type of project mixed-use (retail, accommodation and academic)
Client Jesus College Oxford
Architect MICA Architects
Landscape architect MICA Architects
Planning consultant JPPC Consultants
Structural engineer Smith and Wallwork
M&E consultant Elementa
Quantity surveyor Gleeds
Main contractor to be confirmed
Tender date to be confirmed
Start on site date to be confirmed
Completion date 2020
Contract duration to be confirmed
Gross internal floor area 7,700m² (excluding landscape)
Gross external area 8,780m²
Landscape area (including terraces) 1,315m²
Form of contract  Design and Build
Total cost £36 million

Mica jesus college northgate house early concept sketch

Mica jesus college northgate house early concept sketch

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Readers' comments (1)

  • No image of the existing building for comparison - but quite how Historic England can label a new proposal with such lumpen street corners a 'well-designed and careful contemporary response' is worrying.

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