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Oxford gives Avanti go-ahead to 'rehabilitate' Stirling's Florey building

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Avanti Architects has won planning to create an extra 25 rooms inside James Stirling’s Florey Building in Oxford and add a discrete two-storey annexe

The plans to reconfigure the Grade II-listed 1971 student residences building – the last of Stirling’s so-called ‘red trilogy’ – were approved by Oxford City Council earlier this month. 

Avanti, which landed the job in early 2014, following a competition organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants, wants to create additional rooms in the original building by infilling some of the duplex accommodation on the fourth and fifth floors and reconfiguring the ground-floor accommodation.

In February the practice’s proposals came under fire from local architect Alan Berman, founding partner at Berman Guedes Stretton, and from Stirling’s friend and former colleague Thomas Muirhead, who branded them a ’comprehensive betrayal, by alteration, of one of the internationally most important buildings of the 20th century.’

However the plans, described by Avanti as a conservation-led ‘rehabilitation’ of the city landmark, received the backing of Historic England, the Oxford Design Review Panel and a range of Oxford amenity societies, and were waved through by the local authority.

According to the practice, the consented scheme addresses ’the deficiencies of the design while strengthening the building’s original organisation’ and will improve the riverside block’s setting by removing a car park. Avanti also claims the ‘additional rooms have been created without altering the original building form’ and that ‘a discrete new-build annexe’ would provide ‘additional support facilities’.

Avanti director Amir Ramezani said: ‘The Florey Building has generated a large amount of public interest, and the college has been meticulous in safeguarding the future of the building in a balanced, sensitive and sustainable way.’

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