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Customer - Corpus Christi College, Oxford

Architect - Rick Mather

Contract value - £2.36m

Contract duration - 9 months

Procurement - Competitive Tender

Case Study - Corpus Christi College, Oxford - New Auditorium

A challenging new build Auditorium at the heart of Corpus Christi College blends seamlessly with its 300 year old surroundings.

A new multi-purpose auditorium at Corpus Christi College, considered to be the most important building to be constructed on the site in over 300 years, presented unique challenges.

Built into the ancient city wall and bounded by Grade I listed buildings, this project required a highly sensitive approach. Detailed and careful planning to manage extremely difficult access, demanding acoustic requirements and the logistics of some 70 specialised contractors, was required.

The new building provides a modern flexible space and incorporates a range of building materials, new and old, including steel, natural stone and glass. The design includes large, frameless picture windows that allow natural light into the auditorium and sliding glass screens to the entrance foyer all utilising specialised acoustic and tinted glass. A skylight above the auditorium gives views up to the neighbouring Christ Church Cathedral, while a roof terrace provides views over the city wall and across Christ Church meadow to the river.

Careful preservation and repairs to the city wall and bastion, both scheduled monuments and which form part of the structure, were critical to the project. Sympathetic repairs were carried out in close cooperation with English Heritage. Beard's long experience of working with historic buildings in and around Oxford was essential.

Challenges & Solutions

The land locked site presented real challenges. With no vehicle access, or space for a tower crane, materials were brought in across Christ Church Meadows and Corpus Christi gardens. A specially designed loading platform and access gantries plus mini crawler cranes were required.

Managing the flow of materials and labour across the neighbouring land, and constructing the building in such a confined space, required very careful planning to minimise disruption to college life and local residents.

With such a difficult site, many stakeholders were involved, including the College, English Heritage, planners, designers and archaeologists. A team approach, proactive issue resolution and strong daily communication helped ensure the overall success of the project.

"Paul's contribution to the ultimate success of the project was immense, and he and his colleagues have produced an iconic building for the College. ”
Colin Holmes , Domestic Bursar for Corpus Christi College, commenting on Beard Project Manager Paul Renton-Rose