St Hilda’s College, Oxford: front-of-house design competition shortlist announced

Five award-winning and accomplished practices selected

Emilywhitfield Wicks 10 07 15 Sthildascollege 59
© Malcolm Reading Consultants / Emily Whitfield-Wicks

St Hilda’s College, Oxford announced today the five architectural practices on the shortlist for its new front-of-house project Redefining St Hilda’s in an invited design competition organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC).

The College is seeking to transform the architectural quality of its public entrance with a £10m+ new development, which will express the College’s evolving identity and speak to St Hilda’s exceptional setting on the river Cherwell. The project, which is linked to the College’s 125th anniversary campaign, will improve and increase the amount of accommodation for students and Fellows, as well as providing new social and teaching spaces.

The shortlisted teams are (in alphabetical order):

  • 6a architects
  • DRDH Architects
  • Gort Scott
  • Hall McKnight
  • Tim Ronalds Architects

Nineteen practices were invited to submit an Expression of Interest for the College, whose alumnae include The Economist’s Editor-in-Chief, Zanny Minton Beddoes; novelist, Barbara Pym; crime writer, Val McDermid; biographer and President of Wolfson College, Oxford, Professor Dame Hermione Lee; former United Nations’ Goodwill Ambassador and International Olympics Committee representative, HRH Princess Haya bint Hussein; and international news presenter, Zeinab Badawi, BBC World News

St Hilda’s College Principal, Professor Sir Gordon Duff, said:

‘We were delighted with the response from the practices we approached and appreciated the care they took with their submissions. The practices that won through did so because of their depth of analysis and connection with the College’s values.
‘This will be a defining project for the College – energising and inspirational – giving St Hilda’s the opportunity to make an assured architectural statement and contribute to the much-celebrated Oxford cityscape.’

Competition organiser, Malcolm Reading, said:

‘These are all highly accomplished and award-winning practices that carefully read our Expression of Interest and took the project to heart. St Hilda’s is known for its creative and sociable atmosphere but it combines this with a serious academic approach. It is this rare combination of flair and rigour that positions the College so well for the future.’

The new gateway to the College, approached from Cowley Place, will include social and conference spaces, suites of academic and teaching rooms, a new Middle Common Room and accommodation for students and Fellows. An open day for the finalists will be held in November and the teams have until January 2016 to produce their concept designs.

An exhibition of the concept designs will be held at the College in February 2016, with jury interviews taking place the same month.

St Hilda’s College was one of the original group of five women’s colleges founded at Oxford at the end of the nineteenth century. Since 2008, it has selected its undergraduates and graduates without regard to gender. St Hilda’s now has one of the highest proportions of international undergraduate students of any college within the University.

Specialists in international architectural competitions, London-based Malcolm Reading Consultants’ current and recent competitions include those for Tintagel Castle Bridge, UK; the Art Mill, Qatar; Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., US; the Guggenheim Helsinki, Finland; ‘Olympicopolis’ at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London; the UK Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015, Italy; and New College, Oxford, UK.