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Oriel College competition finalists sent back to drawing board

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Oxford’s Oriel College has announced it is to restart its high-profile design contest, meaning a raft of big name practices going back to the drawing board

The college was expected to pick a victor this month from an impressive list of finalists, which featured Amanda Levete, Caruso St John, Allies and Morrison, Panter Hudspith and Wright & Wright.

But the prestigious college has made the surprise decision to ‘review its wider masterplan’ following recent interviews with the five practices vying for the social and catering facilities project.

The 700 year-old college will now begin an ‘appraisal of the estate to establish and reconfirm priorities’ which is expected to complete by next summer. The finalists, who will be paid an honorarium for their work to date, will be invited back for competitive interview in response to a revised brief.

Explaining the review, a statement from competition organiser Malcolm Reading said the five proposals raised ‘wider issues for the College which it is eager to embrace and reconcile’ although exact details have not been confirmed.

The statement said: ‘The College wishes to thank all of the competitors for their hard work and intriguing design solutions and despite the imposed pause remains committed to resolving the challenges of the Brewhouse site.’

The project – estimated to be worth between £5 million and £10 million – was to insert new social spaces and catering facilities into the colleges ‘Brewhouse’ site.

The wedge-shaped plot lies between the college’s Grade I-listed hall and chapel – which have elements dating back to the 17th century – and a medieval wall.

More than 60 entries were made to the high-profile, two-stage contest which launched in June this year.

Founded in 1326, Oriel was one of the first five colleges at the University of Oxford and today has 300 undergraduate and 200 graduate students alongside 150 staff.

The college’s Gothic Survival quadrangle is Grade I-listed and features 17th century design elements. Other key buildings include the neoclassical Senior Library designed by James Wyatt in the 1780s.

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