New Radcliffe House\

Regenerating the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter

The first building to complete on the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) master plan site integrates university accommodation with three local GP surgeries.

The Challenge

New Radcliffe House is the first step in the University of Oxford’s ambitious master plan to regenerate the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ). The brief: to design a new state of the art healthcare centre housing not one, but three relocated GP practices whilst also providing flexible offices for the university.

The Big Idea

We have been working with the University of Oxford, the doctors' practices and the Primary Care Trust for over 5 years to secure central government funding for the health centre and attract tenants for the upper floors. The scheme moved quickly to achieve funding deadlines and when planning consent was achieved in May 2011 the work started on site three weeks later. The building was formally opened in July 2012.

The building fills the square 'city block' identified by the Masterplan with its major elevation and public entrance facing onto a pedestrian route that will cross the site. The other elevations are carefully screened to offer privacy to examination rooms at ground floor and to avoid overlooking of adjoining neighbours on upper floors. The centre of the building has a huge circular lightwell that provides a calm space for patients waiting to see their doctors. On the upper floors the lightwell offers cross ventilation and daylight into what would otherwise be a deep plan building. The project signed up to WRAP’s ‘Halving Waste to Landfill Campaign’; the first education project to do so, contributing to the achievement of an Excellent BREEAM rating.

Working from the Inside Out

Internally, the challenge was to create a reception and waiting area for not one, but three, surgeries within the same space. The waiting room is an open, welcoming and calm shared space with warm material tones highlighted with accent colours. The oval shaped plan, large graphics and colour identity allows ease of navigation to each surgery reception without hierarchy and arrangement of loose furniture allows for flexible and adaptable use. The circulation areas use colour, signage and super-graphics to navigate to ‘clean and crisp’ looking clinical rooms.

An Artist's Perspective

Oxford University commissioned a public art strategy, recognising that the art and cultural programme will enrich the environment and life of the ROQ. An art strategy steering group was formed, made up of doctors, academics, the project champion and an art-commissioning consultant. Oona Culley was the first commissioned artist on the ROQ for New Radcliffe House. Her work visually echo the branching structures of blood vessels and neurons within our own bodies with the delicate network structure of tree branches.

  • Project Details
  • Sustainability
  • Materials

Project Summary

Project Team

Structural engineer: Pell Frischmann
QS: Gardiner & Theobald
MEP: Long & Partners
Project Manager: RBDML
Contractor: Longcross


The building is largely naturally ventilated, achieved through a combination of solar controlled glazing, openable windows, automatically operated acoustic louvres with secure ventilation grilles which enable night purging and exposed concrete soffits to utilise the thermal massing. All of these strategies, together with PV’s to the roof enabled the scheme to be awarded BREEAM Excellent. The project also signed up to WRAP’s ‘Halving Waste to Landfill Campaign’; the first education project to do so.


The building uses locally sourced handmade brick from the Forest of Dean, offset with bespoke timber SSG windows and integral anodised aluminium ventilation panels.

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