Wadham development gets the go-ahead

7th March 2018

News, Student news, Alumni news

Proposals to develop Oxford’s first dedicated access facility and a new undergraduate centre on the Wadham College site in Parks Road have been granted planning consent by Oxford City Council.

  • the proposed new Access and Undergraduate Centre

The two buildings, located in the Back Quad, will replace the existing Goddard Building, built in 1951.

Improving access to Wadham and its buildings are key to this development. The two new buildings will enable the College to expand and develop its work with students from disadvantaged ‘widening participation’ backgrounds. Celebrating inclusivity, they provide level access to every part of the two buildings and accessible student accommodation.

The College commissioned the architects AL_A, the studio of RIBA Stirling Prize winner Amanda Levete, in July 2016 after an invited design competition. The firm has since been working with the College Building Working Group to develop the detailed designs.

Since the initial offer of donor funding towards these buildings, Wadham students and staff have been involved in the pre-planning process, through a variety of focus groups and committees. Working in consultation with the Oxford Design Review Panel, Historic England, Oxford Preservation Trust and others, the architects have created two outstanding buildings which will provide much needed facilities and improved functionality.

The Dr Lee Shau Kee Building is designed to house the College’s extensive access and outreach programme. This dedicated access facility in Oxford will offer purpose-built space for welcoming schools and hosting Wadham's innovative access programmes and residential summer schools. The building will have a dedicated music room, space for public lectures and student accommodation.

The William Doo Undergraduate Centre will be at the heart of the student community and have study areas, social spaces, an art room, café, e-hub and Junior Common Room where undergraduate students can gather to study, exchange ideas and socialise.

Chair of Oxford City Council’s Planning Committee, Councillor Louise Upton, described the buildings as “quite fabulous” at the meeting where planning approval was given.

Warden of Wadham College Ken Macdonald QC said: “This inspiring new Undergraduate Centre and purpose-built facilities for access and outreach, the first of their kind in Oxford, signal our faith in the College’s future, and mark its continuing confidence in the harmony between learning and beauty that our foundation buildings express so well.”

Architect Amanda Levete added: “These two buildings are designed to radiate openness. Modest in scale, but high in aspiration, they express the liberal and egalitarian values of the College and create a sense of belonging for students and staff. Reflecting changes in the way students work and socialise, they are open and transparent, and use the life of the College to animate the buildings.”  

Two transformative donations have supported this development from an early stage and alumni and friends of Wadham are now joining these leadership benefactors to help create these inspirational facilities.

Subject to building schedules, work on the new undergraduate and access centre is set to start in July 2018 with the building completed by August 2020. Bidwells has been appointed to manage the development.