Since its foundation in 1886, St Hugh’s College has grown to become one of the largest colleges at University of Oxford. This project is an exciting opportunity for the college to become a world-class centre of learning and research.
In 2017 Hawkins\Brown won a design competition to rejuvenate the St Hugh’s estate and in doing so create a much needed social heart for the college and surrounding community.
St Hugh’s College was established in 1886 to offer an Oxford education to women. To this day, it prides itself on its progressive approach to culture and politics. It now accepts men and welcomes students from every country and any kind of background. The college occupies 14.5 acres just to the north of the city centre known as the ‘island site’ because of its tranquil gardens and restful place to live and work. The College occupies an eclectic mix of buildings dating from the early Edwardian era to the modern day.
A lack of strategic planning at estate level has resulted in the college developing in a piecemeal fashion over time. Although not part of the core brief, we were keen to explore a series of steps that could potentially be taken over the next few years to unlock the full potential of this part of the college. The masterplan identifies the potential for further improvement to the college quad and expansion of student accommodation by keeping the initial interventions compact and flexible.
The project focuses on the north west corner of the site and through a part-refurbishment, part-new build development aims to unlock the full potential of this area to give the college a fresh identity, legibility, focus and connectivity. The rather tired but much loved Wolfson Building is rejuvenated to provide better accommodation for students to live, work and socialise.
The new courtyard building known as ‘The Square’ makes the most of the space in between the existing buildings to create state of the art social, conference and learning facilities, as well as improving the Grade II listed library building. The ground floor of ‘The Square’ is a highly flexible space to ensure that the building is used to its full potential throughout the day as well as throughout the year.