Radcliffe Primary Care Building, Oxford

The Radcliffe Primary Care Building in Oxford’s Radcliffe Observatory Quarter had been redeveloped to provide office accommodation for The University of Oxford’s Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.

The building forms the south side of the three-sided Infirmary Courtyard with the Radcliffe Infirmary to the west and St Luke’s Chapel to the north. It was constructed in 1911 as the Outpatients Department for the Radcliffe Infirmary. The architect Edward Warren designed the facades, while the interior was designed by medical practitioners. The north, east and west elevations are built of ashlar limestone with the south elevation constructed in brick. The east elevation to Woodstock Road and north elevation to the Infirmary Courtyard are neoclassical in composition. Elsewhere, the facade reflects the functional nature of the interior.

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The Radcliffe Primary Care Building is Grade II listed and so presented significant planning constraints. Its significance lies in its relationship to the other buildings in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter as well as key elements of its exterior. The new design needed to integrate with and preserve the character of the original building and context.

A significant component of the redeveloped Radcliffe Primary Care Building is the new infill structure, which replaces a single-storey waiting hall. The infill structure sits tightly between the pedimented stone bays of the existing building and offers a formal response to the Infirmary Courtyard. At ground level it is constructed of ashlar stone with the new stone courses laid to match those in the existing elevations. At the upper levels, the infill structure is constructed in load bearing, precast concrete, expressed as a series of vertical fins. These fins are sympathetic in tone to the original stone, thus becoming a comfortable ally to the facades of the existing building. A glass screen is placed outside the concrete fins. During the day, the reflection of the Radcliffe Infirmary in this glass screen plays a strong part in the facades composition as seen from Woodstock Road. At night the internal fins are backlit, revealing key internal spaces in the building.

Internally, the existing flank walls and their window and door apertures have been retained. These windows provide internal views across double height spaces and into the adjacent rooms, and the doors allow horizontal circulation to the adjoining rooms. A bridge traverses the atrium space at 1st Floor Level, providing a link to the southern portion of the existing building and permitting views down into the atrium space.

The extension on the western side of the building offers a new gable seen along the full length of the East West Link pedestrian route when travelling from west to east and creates an informal square between the Radcliffe Primary Care Building and Somerville College Student accommodation. The extension is constructed of brick matched to the existing brickwork on the rear of the Radcliffe Primary Care Building. On the western elevation, which faces the East West Link pedestrian route, there is one large fixed window per floor. These windows provide long views down the East West Link from within the building and also allow passers by to view the activities contained inside.