Zaha Hadid's smooth curving addition to the University of Oxford weaves through existing buildings, changes height, and twists and turns to avoid an existing Sequoia tree. The new structure, clad in mirrored stainless steel, houses a 117-seat lecture theater, a multi-purpose gallery space, archives, reading rooms and offices.
The new structure sits amidst the exisiting campus buildings, including a Victorian-era convent and library, and the Brutalist Hilda Besse building. In order to fit into the surroundings without disruppting the existing layout, the architects designed the addition as a reflective structure that slightly meanders between the existing buildings and a century-old tree, with a changing height to accommodate the existing structures.
The reflective tunnel-like structure connects 68 and 66 Woodstock Road and has three above-ground levels and one underground level which houses a lecture theater. The ground floor features a large multi-functional gallery space, while the first and second floor house reading rooms, offices and 2,200 square meters of book storage. The interior spaces were designed in contrast with the sleek steel exterior and the walls are clad in oak-veneer boards combined with perforated acoustic panels.
Photos by Luke Hayes