After working with New College on two earlier competitions, MRC was asked to organise an invited design competition for the New Quad project. The College wished to commission a new development that would honour the tradition of the Oxford quadrangle while taking full advantage of a valuable, but currently under-used, site in the centre of Oxford.
A six-strong shortlist was selected from a carefully composed long-list, they were asked to produce a masterplan and concept design for the initiative. The brief had the main aim of optimising the accommodation potential for the College, whilst also addressing the needs of New College School, which shares the site. As a number of existing buildings would need to be elided or repurposed, sensitivity to heritage and planning issues was essential.
Knowing that the design challenge was going to be testing, MRC selected a diverse, international shortlist for the College. Finalists included Alison Brooks Architects, David Kohn Architects, Gort Scott, Kengo Kuma and Associates, Lee / Fitzgerald Architects and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands.
Following the selection by the jury of David Kohn Architects as the winner, Sir Curtis Price, Warden of New College, said:
‘This is a highly significant project for New College; it will release the potential of an important central Oxford site whilst at the same time creating a piece of striking architecture that will match the quality of the rest of the College – both timeless and sensitive to the environs. We are very pleased with the result. Practically, the project will move us closer to our objective of housing all of those undergraduates who wish to live in College accommodation for the entirety of their course.’