This past autumn, 135 second year students moved into the Dorothy Wadham Building, a new project for Wadham College, Oxford designed by Allies and Morrison.

After some searching, the College procured the site in 2015, then a disused car showroom and petrol filling station in south east Oxford, a short walk or bike ride from the College’s main location. A key challenge thus was to convey a strong collegiate identity, and to achieve this, the new building is laid out in the form of a traditional quad and houses the entire year group in one place for the first time. An additional challenge was the need for this new institutional architecture to sit comfortably in a residential setting of heritage value.

Student wellbeing, and the delivery of an excellent student experience were also core to the brief and central to the building design. The variety of volumes created by the gabled roof form offer an exciting mix of attic rooms with real character and views across a neighbouring meadow. A single storey Garden Room lines the eastern edge of the quad, a flexible space which can be adapted from informal student common room to summer dining hall to a teaching classroom. Common kitchens look over the internal courtyard providing a backdrop of activity to the central space. It is these shared spaces, along with the careful crafting of a collegiate environment in an altogether new location for the College, which come together to engender a strong sense of community among the undergraduates living here.