The Middle East Centre of St. Antony’s College is the University of Oxford’s centre for interdisciplinary study of the Modern Middle East. The centre was founded in 1957 and its focus is on research of humanities and social sciences with a wide reference to the Arab World and its geographic adjacencies. The centre’s research core is a specialised library and substantial paper and photographic archive covering material from 1800’s onwards. At present, the Middle East Centre’s library and administration facilities are housed in the former Rectory of the Church of SS. Philip and James at 68 Woodstock Road.
The archive is currently located in the basement of the neighbouring property at 66 Woodstock Road, sharing the building with other facilities and rooms of the college. The Middle East Centre also had three workrooms in the same property. As an integral part of the College’s expansion, the Middle East Centre provides a new library and archive to meet the current demand for research and academic activities. The new building complements the College’s vision for growth and adds formal coherence to the existing quad. The Softbridge design defines a series of academic and research affiliations. The form adapts to the the existing built and natural environment; revealing pedestrian paths and flows within the new building.
The new design allows for connections at different levels, creating a suspended ‘bridge’ structure that enables the public aspects of the brief to infiltrate the building and into the surrounding College.
By designing the ‘bridge’ in terms of the paths and flow, the existing buildings are read as separate elements, complementing their current detached character. The building does not aim to impose; but instead the floating nature of the ‘bridge’ is emphasised via the chosen cladding material. The main building body will be clad with stainless steel, which has a light and ephemeral appearance to echo the existing context of listed buildings, trees and ever-changing light conditions.Zaha Hadid Architects
Design: Zaha Hadid Architects
Associate Director: Jim Heverin
Project Architect: Johannes Hoffmann, Ken Bostock
Project Team: Goswin Rothenthal, Theodora Ntatsopoulou, Saleem A. Jalil, Mireia Sala Font, Amita Kulkarni, Goswin Rothenthal, Sara Klomps, Alex Bilton, Yeena Yoon, Barbara Bochnak
Structural Engineers: Adams Kara TaylorMechanical/ Electrical/Accoustics: Max Fordham Lighting Design: Arup Lighting
Façade Consultants: Arup Façade Engineering
Cost Consultants: Sense Cost Ltd
Fire Engineers: Arup Fire
Planning Supervision: Jppc Oxford
Forestry And Arboriculture Consultant: Sarah Venner
Access: David Bonnet
Landscape: Gross Max
CDM: Andrew Goddard Associates
Program: New Academic Building
Total Floor Area: 1200m2
Site Area: 900 m2
Footprint Area:900 m2