In April 1990, we were invited to enter a limited competition by Magdalen College Oxford to design undergraduate and post- graduate student accommodation and a recital room.
Our design continues the five hundred-year development of a building typology characteristic of the Oxford college. The simple grass surface of the quad is partially surrounded by the College wall, the outer stone shell of the recital room and the pinnacled screens enclosing the rooms and private student room terraces. Below, the detritus of domestic life, cycles and cars, are hidden, releasing a previously obscured view of the deer park, now framed by the open end of the quad.
At the centre of the layered spatial order, 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 the sunlight and locate the bridges which cross the cloister. Cast metal screens, derived from a characteristic Magdalen decorative theme and infilled by stone and glass, hang from slender stone piers.
Modern stone technology, adhesives and steel bracing are used to meet Magdalen’s desire for a ‘late twentieth century building’.
Ian Ritchie Architects were placed 2nd to Dimitri Porphyrios Architects.