Beaver House is in the centre of Oxford and was originally the headquarters for Blackwell’s Bookshop. More recently, it has been home to the Oxford University Estates Administration offices, and we were asked to undertake a feasibility study for St John’s College, Oxford, for a significant refurbishment and rooftop extension. The proposal retains the best features of the building, bringing new life to the existing superstructure, and repurposing it to provide high-quality offices. By capitalising on the embedded carbon of the existing structure, the scheme creates a more thermally efficient building, better suited to the wider City of Oxford Conservation Area.
Deep floorplans and high floor-to-floor levels have allowed us to provide lab-enabled capacity that will cater for a growing demand for Research and Development space in the city and the wider Thames Valley. The scheme includes three new storeys above the existing flat roof. These were carefully considered to respect local height restrictions and avoid overwhelming the streetscape. It was also important to protect key view cones to Carfax Tower and the historic city centre. These upper floors are set back, with balconies offering commanding views of the city, and will provide an additional 103,800 sq ft of flexible lab-enabled office space.
A new fully glazed asymmetric curtain wall creates a contrast to the Oxford stone grid of the existing building. This will be augmented with bronze cladding, creating a distinctive feature and a counterpoint to the neighbouring Saïd Business School. A chamfered façade looks on to Frideswide Square and the approach from the train station, linking the proposal to the wider Osney Mead and Oxpens development in west Oxford.
At basement level, the plan is to convert an existing car park into new cycle, shower and gym facilities that link through to a double-height statement reception area above, placing sustainable travel methods at the heart of the scheme.