How do you design a building for a college that was founded in 1314? (No pressure!)
Earlier this month, Exeter College at Oxford University in England selected the winners of a design competition to imagine what it calls the school’s “third quadrangle,” a site tasked not only with communal and social needs but also student dormitories, classrooms and study spaces.
In a field of 26 talented, international entries from the U.S. and U.K., Alison Brooks Architects came out on top with an offering that straddles the low-rise nature of the surrounding area and the modern needs of the site.
In other words: no big, glassy university towers here.
From the looks of the renderings, the firm is walking a fine line between past and present. The scheme is arranged around two new courtyards, one from the 19th century and the other from the 21st, connected by a walk that strings together a series of cloisters, amphitheater staircases, landings and garden walks, which the school hopes will be places “for gathering and scholarly exchange.”
The project is financed by a fundraising campaign leading up to Exeter College’s 700th anniversary in 2014.