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Competitions

The Library at Exeter College, Oxford

United Kingdom

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Shortlist

  • Carmody Groarke
  • Coffey Architects
  • Gort Scott Architects
  • Jonathan Tuckey Design
  • Lee/Fitzgerald Architects
  • Winner Nex—

After writing a feasibility study on the renewal of the Library at Exeter College, Oxford, MRC devised and managed a two-stage competitive process to select an architect for the project.

Designed by the celebrated Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, the Grade II listed Library is beloved by students and alumnia like for its architectural quality, historic significance, scholarly atmosphere and idiosyncratic charm.

The Library is integral to the life of the College and its collections are extensively used.

The building currently requires essential repairs to its fabric and upgrades to its services, and is also regarded as increasingly unfit for purpose as a contemporary resource, with the Library felt to be deficient in aspects such as the number and quality of reader spaces, user comfort, accessibility and sustainability.

At the competition’s first stage, an invitation to participate was issued to 25 firms with expertise in contemporary design in heritage contexts.

Competitors were asked to introduce their practice and provide their initial response to the project.

From 25 submissions, a shortlist of six was selected. At the second stage, which fostered dialogue and exchange, competitors visited the site, hosted an office visit and charrette with the client, and prepared a final submission outlining their design principles, critique of the emerging brief, and overall approach to the project.

Nex— was selected as the winner of the competition, with its design praised for demonstrating flair and pragmatism.