Allies and Morrison have won a competition to design new social spaces for Oriel College, Oxford. The scheme shows a new pavilion in the original medieval kitchen courtyard behind the College Dining Hall, replacing a series of utilitarian service buildings.

The new building has been designed with the simple barn-like structures typical of early College buildings in mind. Its lightweight roof lifts above the medieval wall to house a new cafe overlooking Magpie Lane and connecting to the Hall. Beneath the new cafe, a large social space links to the bar in the 17th century undercroft. All these spaces are served by a modern kitchen in a new basement. The new facilities will streamline food service for the College Formal Hall and will also create opportunities for informal gatherings.

The simple, angled geometry of the new building’s roof responds to the sensitive site. Low eaves minimise the visual impact of the building along Magpie Lane while preventing overlooking from neighbouring buildings. The roof slopes maximise natural light in the adjacent College Hall and Chapel. The new cafe has daylight from all sides, whilst the social space below it is top-lit, linking to and transforming the subterranean bar.


Paul Appleton, Una Daly, Di Haigh, Anna Joynt, Max Kettenacker, Graham Morrison


Oriel College
Structural engineer
Price and Myers
Services engineer
Max Fordham & Partners
Cost consultant
C.S Charlesworth & Partners
Project manager
Austin Newport
Access consultant
David Bonnett Associates
Catering consultant
The Litmus Partnership Ltd


2,300 sqm
Oriel College