Wolfson, Oxford

The Wolfson Building is a Grade II listed structure within Somerville College designed by Philip Dowson at Arup Associates in the 1960s. The existing building contains student accommodation at the upper levels and a large lecture hall at ground level.

The practice was appointed to carry out the refurbishment and extension of the existing hall, in order to provide additional space at ground level. The brief also required the replacement of the windows and all of the mechanical services throughout the building.

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The new extension acts as a break-out area for larger events and gives the hall and its functions a new presence onto the main quadrangle. The structure of the design takes its cues from the structural expression of the existing building, whilst employing longer spans to indicate a different use from the bay windows of the upper floors. The extensive glazing onto the quadrangle reveals a generous internal space. A simple palette of materials of Iroko timber beams and exposed concrete walls, establishes a strong identity that sits well alongside the existing structure.