Five shortlisted concepts unveiled for extension to Oxford University college

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Hall McKnight, 6a Architects and DRDH Architects are among the studios to have revealed their shortlisted designs for the overhaul of St Hilda's College at the University of Oxford (+ slideshow).

London studios Gort Scott and Tim Ronalds Architects join 6a Architects, DRDH Architects and Hall McKnight on the shortlist, which was announced in October.

Hall McKnight's concept for an extension to St Hilda's College in Oxford
Hall McKnight opted for pale brick buildings with arched cut-aways for the University of Oxford's St Hilda's College

The teams have now for the first time revealed their proposals for the £10 million renovation and extension of the riverside college in Oxford, England – part of one of the UK's most prestigious universities.



The project was commissioned to celebrate the college's 125th anniversary. It will increase the amount of accommodation for students and live-in fellows, as well as providing new teaching spaces, a common room, porters' lodge and entrance.

Hall McKnight's concept for an extension to St Hilda's College in Oxford
Hall McKnight's design includes a rooftop observation deck

"The brief was demanding and each team has responded with a different analysis of priorities and design opportunities," said Gordon Duff, principal of St Hilda's College.

"We are keenly aware of the legacy we give to future generations as well as the opportunity to enhance Oxford itself."

6a Architects' concept for an extension to St Hilda's College in Oxford
6a Architects' design centres on a crescent-shaped colonnade facing the river

"This initiative is all about reimagining this beautiful site and creating an academic environment which is pleasing and satisfying to use, and which enables the college to flourish over the next 100 years."

6a Architects' concept for an extension to St Hilda's College in Oxford

The design drawn up by 6a Architects centres on a crescent-shaped colonnade facing the river, while DRDH Architects' plan takes a more linear approach with a series of pale blocks with gridded facades.

DRDH Architects' concept for an extension to St Hilda's College in Oxford
DRDH Architects' take a linear approach with a series of pale blocks

Gort Scott's design is defined by rows of vertical fins across textured facades, and decorative window frames.

Hall McKnight has opted for pale brick buildings, with arched cut-aways and a rooftop observation deck, and the fifth design by Tim Ronalds Architects is a red brick block with pale grey detailing and wide windows that open onto a long balcony overlooking the river.

DRDH Architects' concept for an extension to St Hilda's College in Oxford
DRDH Architects' designs feature gridded facades

"Each takes a different approach in celebrating the new gateway to the riverside site, combining this with a sequence of academic and residential accommodation that will give St Hilda's an assured new building," said competition organiser Malcolm Reading of Malcolm Reading Consultants.

Gort Scott's concept for an extension to St Hilda's College in Oxford
Gort Scott's design is defined by rows of vertical fins across textured facades

"The submissions sparkle with enthusiasm and ideas, which are passionately argued and beautifully presented," he said.

St Hilda's College was set up by Dorothea Beale in 1883 in an 18th-century house and has had several extensions in the intervening years. It was the University of Oxford's last all-female college until 2008, when it began admitting male students and fellows.

Gort Scott's concept for an extension to St Hilda's College in Oxford
Decorative window frames feature in Gort Scott's design

Notable alumnae include former United Nations' ambassador and princess Haya bint Hussein, The Economist editor Zanny Minton Beddoes, BBC news presenter Zeinab Badawi and novelist Barbara Pym.

The concepts will be on show at the college between 1 and 12 February. The winner is expected to be announced in late March.

Tim Ronalds' concept for an extension to St Hilda's College in Oxford
Tim Ronalds Architects' design is a red brick block with pale grey detailing and wide windows

Zaha Hadid recently completed a new study centre for Middle Eastern culture at Oxford's St Antony's College, which the architect conceived as a reflective steel tunnel.

Other schemes taking place at University of Oxford colleges include Herzog & de Meuron's disc-shaped school of government and public policy, and a new campus with a curving roofline for Exeter College by Alison Brooks Architects.

  • reality of business

    You have to stop calling this a competition. If you pick five teams of your preference without any reason, it is not a competition, it is just that you gave the job friends. If you did an open-international two-tree stage competition, I am pretty sure these teams wouldn’t even get in the first round.

    • Z-dog

      If the “best comment on this webpage” was a competition between me and you, I would win.

    • james juricevich

      If you think that an institute such as Oxford University picked this short list “without any reason” then you’re completely out of touch with how the business of architecture is run,
      regardless of whether you like the schemes represented above.

      • Guest

        I’m sure they had a reason, though I can’t think what it might have been. All I know is that my telephone never rang once.

    • T-dog

      I suppose when they select the contractors you would want them to have an open international tender as well… Didn’t think so. “Reality of business”! Haha.

  • Durgen Jensen

    I think it is funny that the UK seems to have their own style of renderings, like an old story book or something. Also, I feel bad for the guy named “Gort”.

  • traian musatescu

    Sad sad sad.