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Customer - Queen's College, Oxford

Architect - Berman Guedes Stretton

Contract value - £5.99 million

Contract duration - 80 weeks

Procurement - Competitive Tender

Case Study - The Queen's College, Oxford

Extending down at Oxford's oldest college creates space for new kitchens and improved dining facilities.

A technically complex project to expand the kitchens and first floor dining halls at Queen's College, Oxford. It involved vastly extending and altering an ancient basement beneath the historic west wing back quad.

The existing building is Grade I listed and sits on limestone foundations. Excavating beneath the structure without disturbing the building required a series of temporary works to support the building, including the entire four-storey elevation. Working beneath the level of the existing foundations meant that the team had to underpin all of the existing walls as excavations proceeded.

The new basement space, which is cast in concrete, provides the college with commercial quality kitchens including preparation areas, a separate pastry kitchen, chill rooms and the main kitchen. On the ground floor, a new servery area has been created with new access and stairs, whilst on the first floor a series of rooms were knocked through to form an extension to the dining hall. A lift with glazed curtain walling was also installed.

Challenges & Solutions

Access for this city centre site was via a 4ft-wide doorway onto a narrow lane. Careful planning and coordination with college and city authorities was needed for deliveries and loading.

Excavating beneath the existing building required great care. It was only possible to use a mini excavator and all spoil had to be loaded into powered wheelbarrows and then out to a skip in the narrow lane.

All work had to take place while the college was functioning. Combined with a watching brief from the archaeologists and English Heritage, the team needed a vigilant approach to health and safety and strong communication with all interested parties.

“It was extremely reassuring to have a local company undertaking this demanding and complex project. Beard understands the difficulties of working in an Oxford College and the special problems this has, especially when the work took place in the very heart of the College whilst it was also fully operational in its academic activities. Their understanding and co-operation has been second to none.”
Dr Linda Irving-Bell