Planning permission has been granted by Oxford City Council for two of the most significant buildings on Oxford University's Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) - one of the biggest development projects the University has undertaken for more than a century.
The new buildings - a Mathematical Institute building, designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects, and a Humanities Building and Library, designed by Bennetts Associates - will provide cutting-edge research and teaching facilities and, in both subject areas, bring together in one place a number of centres and faculties that are currently scattered around the city.
The ROQ is a 10-acre site in central Oxford, bound by the Woodstock Road, Somerville College, Walton Street, Observatory Street, and Green Templeton College, and will accommodate new teaching and learning space for the University over the next 20 years.
"The University is delighted that planning permission has been granted for these two new buildings," said Professor Anthony Monaco, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources) and Chair of the ROQ Board. "These projects form the core of our vision for this site, offering state-of-the-art facilities for research and teaching that will greatly benefit faculty and students. The fantastic designs by both architects provide new avenues through the site, exciting gardens and squares, all with views of the Radcliffe Observatory."
Rafael Vinoly Architects' new Mathematical Institute building will be the main workplace for more than 500 academics and support staff, as well as the centre for the academic life of approximately 1,000 undergraduates and a diverse community of college research fellows and lecturers.
The scheme provides the opportunity to accommodate the growing population of the Mathematical Institute - who currently work in three separate locations - in a modern, high performance building that respects and enhances the setting of the adjoining historic buildings.
"We are delighted to receive planning approval on our proposals for the Mathematical Institute building," said Rafael Vinoly. "Our proposals result from the resolute commitment of Oxford University, Oxford City Council officers, English Heritage representatives and regional design review panels, who were all intensively involved from the start of the design process. Our joint efforts have paid-off and generated an architectural solution that engages and complements this complex historical site. Working with the Mathematical Institute, chaired by Nick Woodhouse, has been a most inspiring experience - we look forward to delivering their new academic research and teaching facilities."
The new Humanities Building and Library, designed by Bennetts Associates, will form the centrepiece of the ROQ development. The first phase brings together four faculties - English, History, Theology and Philosophy - and will provide state of the art library and teaching facilities as well as research, administrative space and academic offices.
"Our intention has been to create a group of complementary buildings that echo the grain and texture of Oxford," commented Rab Bennetts, Director of Bennetts Associates. "The backdrop of faculty buildings provides the setting for two new 'quads', with the library lantern as the counterpoint to the Grade 1 listed Radcliffe Observatory. We are delighted to receive planning consent and look forward to receiving the go ahead for construction."