The project will enhance the visitor experience at Christ Church and enable the Chapter House, which is currently used as a tourist shop, to be restored.

Christ Church, Oxford appointed Purcell to transform a sensitive green belt site and a redundant thatched barn into a new visitor centre with an interpretation area, shop and a cafe.

The project team had to build a strong case for the scheme and develop a design that integrated well with its context. Extensive consultation with stakeholders, Historic England and the council informed the final proposals. We carried out a thorough options appraisal to reduce massing without losing commercial flooring area. The thatched barn will be carefully refurbished and the new buildings will be constructed using traditional materials with a contemporary approach.

The early 19th century thatched barn, which has been unused for many years, will be extended and converted into a new visitor centre. It is located in a 46 acre meadow that is bordered by the Thames and Cherwell rivers.

Using traditional building forms and materials will ensure the additions look integrated within its rural setting. The thatched barn, currently an isolated building, will maintain its importance thanks to the subservient nature of the new development.

New facilities include a ticketing area, a shop relocated from the Chapter House, and a cafe and facilities for the site maintenance team. New interpretation facilities will inform visitors about the Meadow and the college’s history.

The orientation of the new additions was carefully assessed to help frame the views of the Meadow.