In April 1990, we were invited by Magdalen College in Oxford to enter a limited competition to design undergraduate and post-graduate student accommodation and a recital room.
Our design is a contemporary interpretation of Magdalen College’s architecture, which is steeped in the Gothic style. The spatial ambiguity of the public-private domains within the College is expressed using form, texture and the play of light. The simple grass surface of the quad is partially surrounded by Longwall, the outer stone shell of the recital room, and pinnacled screens enclosing rooms and private student terraces. Below, storage, cycles and cars are hidden, releasing a previously obscured view of the deer park.
At the centre of the layered spatial order and shifts in scale, a perforated stone screen veils one side of a cloister, rolling at the top to form an open, sheltering semi-vault. Curved stone walls punch narrow slots of space into sunlight and locate the bridges which cross the cloister. Cast metal screens, derived from the almost golden section proportions of the Chapel’s wooden screen and infilled with stone and glass, hang from slender stone piers.
Modern stone technology, glass, cast metal and steel bracing are used to meet Magdalen’s desire for a ‘late twentieth century building’.
Ian Ritchie Architects were placed 2nd.