St Catherine’s College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford. Within the setting of Arne Jacobsen’s original College buildings, Purcell was appointed to extend upon Stephen Hodder’s previous accommodation pavilions. In addition to this, the brief included the design of a new Graduate Centre, containing a Seminar Room, Common Room and multi-use event space.
St Catherine’s College are custodians of some of the finest post-war architecture in the UK and strongly believe it is their duty to safeguard it for the future. As such, our design proposals were carefully considered, with the new buildings designed to ensure they are worthy of the context, whilst meeting the client’s requirements.
Unique qualities of the site include harmony and consistency. The materiality, scale, mass, and rhythm of the buildings has remained consistent throughout the evolution of the campus. Maintaining this whilst introducing new buildings to the site required careful consideration. To achieve this, we sought to mirror the intent of Hodder’s pavilions, and in doing so continue the street scene he set up.
The Graduate Centre is designed to resonate with both Hodder and Jacobsen’s work. The cylindrical three-storey hub, with a seminar room and common room, will be sharply clad in bronze in a reference to Jacobsen’s use of the material. The bronze is intended to contrast in tone and glossiness with the stainless steel used for two existing student accommodation blocks.