Norham Gardens, St Edmund Hall Ground-Breaking

Norham Gardens, St Edmund Hall Ground-Breaking

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St Edmund Hall is one of Oxford’s oldest colleges with the first known written record suggesting it was founded in the twelfth century. Currently, however, the college cannot house all its undergraduate students in existing halls or houses. This means that very few undergraduates can live in student accommodation for the entirety of their course and are instead forced to find their own private accommodation which can be costly given the university is in one of the UK’s most expensive cities. To address this incohesive housing, provision of new, high-quality student accommodation became an urgent priority for St Edmund Hall.

Designed by Wright and Wright Architects and housed in a mixture of new buildings and a remodelled Victorian villa, the Norham St Edmund project will create 127 ensuite bedrooms, kitchens, communal areas, and gardens at the College’s site in Oxford.

The new buildings are designed to Passivhaus standards, and the Victorian villa will be refurbished to the UK’s Part L Building Regulations compliance. Sustainably sourced materials with low levels of embodied carbon have been prioritised throughout the design development. A prefabricated cross-laminated timber frame makes up the superstructure, with the new buildings faced in a mixture of brickwork and tiles, complimenting the Victorian characteristics of their surroundings with gable ends, towers, chimneys, dormer windows, and ornamental ironwork. Energy for the 4,600m² development will be obtained from air source heat pumps and bi-solar green roofs reducing the college's costs and boosting sustainability. Alongside this, beautifully landscaped cloister gardens, mature trees, and an ecology pond will increase the biodiversity of the site by 88% and create a biodiverse landscape around the development.

St Edmund Hall, SDC, Wright and Wright Architects and other members of the project team gathered on 24 October 2023 to celebrate the official commencement of construction. Professor Baroness Willis CBE, SDC Director Carl Bennett, The Rt Hon the Lord Patten of Barnes CH, Architect Clare Wright, and Domestic Bursar Mark Blandford-Baker symbolically dug the ground to signify the start of the construction work. The scheme is scheduled for completion in 2025.

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