Our brief for this project was to create new offices on an underused site in Botley that sits to the edge of the city of Oxford. A former chapel with several single storey extensions currently occupies the site and is used for offices. But the set-up is compromised by a lack of natural light, space and accessibility and inadequate provision with regards to services, thermal efficiency and fire.
The current building is 2,500 sq ft and the plan is to build two new office developments with a 14,300 sq ft footprint, that will also include new parking, EV car charging, covered secure cycle storage, soft and hard landscaping, end-of-trip facilities and WCs. However, there are several challenges: the chapel is in a vulnerable state but has historical value and the site had previously been refused planning permission for a residential scheme. Also, the size and height of any new construction is limited by the tight space and the surrounding structures, which also reduces parking and access for larger vehicles.
The proposed design includes orientating one of the new buildings to better align with adjacent terraced housing and, in doing so, create a sheltered courtyard, both of which significantly improve the existing streetscape and create a focal point for the development to face into. The proposed buildings will be of brick construction with high quality landscaping across the site providing a tranquil space away from the bustle of the busier streets nearby. Window locations and sizes will help control solar gain and heat loss and will also focus views on to the courtyard and away from more unsightly views and local residential developments. The buildings are being designed to achieve a 40% improvement over current Part L requirements, putting the scheme at an EPC of A.