Ainsworth Graduate Centre St Catherine’s College Oxford Building, English Architecture Photos

Ainsworth Graduate Centre St Catherine’s College, Oxford

21 Apr 2020

Ainsworth Graduate Centre St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford

Architects: Purcell

Location: Oxford, England, UK

Ainsworth Graduate Centre St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford

Ainsworth Graduate Centre and student accommodation pavilions at St Catherine’s College, Oxford

The new Ainsworth Graduate Centre is a striking circular design yet one that sits harmoniously in a location steeped in history. The building resides on the site of the original Grade I listed St. Catherine’s College campus designed by renowned architect Arne Jacobsen.

Ainsworth Graduate Centre St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford

Built between 1960 and 1964, Jacobsen designed the college’s main campus in its entirety. Since Jacobsen’s death in 1971 additional buildings have been delivered by the Danish architect’s assistant, Knud Holscher, and Stirling Prize-winning RIBA past president Stephen Hodder. Architects Purcell designed the new Graduate Centre as a continuation of the second phase of Hodder’s development by following his typology as sensitively as possible.

Proteus HR TECU bronze cladding panels were specified for the cylindrical three-storey hub, which features a seminar room and common room, as a reference to Jacobsen’s use of the material on previous projects at the college, synchronising old with new.

Ainsworth Graduate Centre St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford

The modular rainscreen system offers a smooth façade with recessed joints. The panels have a lightweight aluminium honeycomb core structurally bonded between two thin gauges of metal. The lightweight nature of this rainscreen system minimises weight loadings on the underlying structure whilst achieving strength and rigidity.

Three varieties of TECU bronze fins were also fabricated by Proteus Facades for external use on glazed sections. Shorter fins were secured with a modified vertical aluminium extrusion cloaked with TECU bronze and secured with stainless steel brackets. Each one is fixed off the curtain wall system, with the TECU bronze capping designed bespoke to achieve the maximum depth from the glazing line to create a more striking aesthetic.

Ainsworth Graduate Centre St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford

Deeper, vertical TECU Bronze fins are secured to a bespoke structural frame up to 450mm off the cladding line, which compartmentalises the façade. The vertical fins frame the structural bay and are fixed off curtain walling, spigoted into the ground and bracketed at the head. The internal aluminium carcass was secured with structural brackets back to the curtain wall and plated at join positions with discrete fixings.

Horizontal beams on the top of the upper level were fabricated in a curve and fixed to a bespoke aluminium structure, then cloaked with the TECU Bronze material. Norman & Underwood secured the beams with structural gusseted brackets fixed back to the primary structure. All three types of fins went through a double-marquette process, where principal and secondary designs were presented to the architects and client for review before manufacture.

Ainsworth Graduate Centre St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford

As well as a reference to the original campus buildings, the bronze finish of the panels and fins was specified to contrast in tone and glossiness with stainless steel panels, which feature on existing and the newly developed student accommodation blocks adjacent to the centre.

Ainsworth Graduate Centre St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford

In the early 1990s and 2000s Stephen Hodder added three accommodation blocks to the site, housing a total of 54 rooms. The facades on these buildings feature Stainless Steel cladding panels. This material was originally chosen as the smooth finish of the stainless steel stands out against the coarse finish of the concrete structure creating a textured facade.

Like the Graduate Centre, the newest student accommodation pavilions are a continuation of Hodder’s development, adding 78 large spacious en-suite rooms connected by glazed stairwells. The façades of the new buildings imitates those constructed by Stephen Hodder, and so Proteus Facades was appointed to fabricate exact replicas of the original Stainless Steel panels they manufactured some twenty years previous for the new development, whilst using more modern methods of construction.

Ainsworth Graduate Centre St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford

The stainless steel panels sit inboard of the building’s concrete frame with a standard pattern of two panels adjacent to large rectangular windows on each of the rooms. The rainscreen panels were supplied pre-finished with a 240S brushed polished finish.

The aluminium carrier system used is fully adjustable on all axis, allowing exacting sightlines to be maintained across the façade. This enables the façade at St Catherine’s college to make the most of linear shadow lines between the panels and concrete structure.

St Catherine’s College Building, Manor Road
Architects: Purcell
St Catherines College in Oxford Architecture News
image courtesy of architecture office
St. Catherine’s College in Oxford

Ainsworth Graduate Centre St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, England images / information received 210420

Location: St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, England, UK

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