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Brasenose College Building : Oxford University

Higher Education Building in England, UK – design by Berman Guedes Stretton

26 Jun 2012

Brasenose College Oxford University

Brasenose College’s Bursar Highly Commends Berman Guedes Stretton

Design: Berman Guedes Stretton


Brasenose College’s bursar has highly commended Berman Guedes Stretton’s recently completed work at the college, reinforcing the practice’s reputation for bringing exceptional design skill and imaginative space use to the most challenging historic buildings. Bursar, Phil Parker, said of the project, ‘BGS has done both us and themselves proud, with a clever design that has produced a functional and beautiful building that weaves in with its older neighbours perfectly.’

Brasenose College Oxford University Building

Photos: Andy Spain


The labyrinth-like project, which sits at the heart of these Grade I listed buildings and took 3 years to design, tested to the full BGS’s expertise in working with historic buildings that have grown over centuries into complex webs of space.

Brasenose College Oxford University Building

The brief required a much enlarged senior dining room, a new student cellar bar, restoration of one of Oxfords oldest “hall kitchens”, rationalisation of the internal circulation including DDA lift, creation of a new servery, new kitchens and the restoration of the oak panelling, flooring and furniture in the dining hall.

Brasenose College Oxford University Building

The most striking features of the completed project are the new domed rotunda and the glass roofed staircase that leads to it. The new rotunda structure has been inserted into a very tight gap between four listed buildings in order to connect them all together and unify their different floor levels, doors and windows. The domed central drum stands proud of the old walls, and its new polished plaster contrasts with the weathered stone walls behind. The old buildings can be glimpsed through openings that have been carved through the rotunda’s drum at two levels.

Brasenose College Oxford University Building

Berman Guedes Stretton also addressed the circulation routes around the Fellows’ buildings and designed new stairways that make the most of both new and traditional architecture, choosing the materials that would complement one another.

As well as introducing contemporary architecture to old, the project also includes the enlargement and restoration of the existing panelled Fellows rooms, sympathetically returning it to their former glory.

Berman Guedes Stretton designed completely new, state-of-the-art kitchens capable of catering for 300 covers, along with a new servery and buttery.

Space was so limited for this major project that when a blocked up brick vaulted 19th century coal cellar was discovered under the grass in the middle of the quad it was used to accommodate new boilers with flues travelling sideways in a concrete duct to a chimney in an adjacent building.

Brasenose College Oxford University Building

The extensive works were carried out during university term time and required contract arrangements to be made that allowed the college to remain fully functional throughout.

Now complete, the delighted bursar commented ‘I am sure many generations of students, staff and Fellows will enjoy the fruits of Berman Guedes Stretton’s labours.’

Brasenose College Oxford University Building

Brasenose College Building Oxford University images / information from S&R

Berman Guedes Stretton

Location: Brasenose College, Oxford, UK

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