Wright & Wright won a competition to develop a site in Norham Gardens in north Oxford as a new residential campus for St Edmund Hall, one of Oxford’s oldest colleges. The scheme comprises 128 study bedrooms and communal facilities housed in a mixture of new buildings and a remodelled Victorian villa, in beautifully landscaped gardens, enabling students to live more economically and relieve pressure on Oxford’s rented housing market.
Provision of new, high-quality student and staff accommodation is an urgent priority for St Edmund Hall, one of Oxford’s oldest colleges. At present, only 60% of students can be housed in existing College halls or houses and very few undergraduates have the option of living in College accommodation for the entirety of their course, something which has educational and financial benefits, especially for less well-off students.
This once-in-a-generation development for the Hall of 128 study bedrooms and communal facilities embodies care for two precious things – our students and our planet.
It will enable the Hall to meet its goal of accommodating all of its undergraduates, inspire a creative and inclusive college culture and lead the way in environmentally sustainable design.
Professor Baroness (Kathy) Willis, CBE
Principal, St Edmund Hall
The project embraces and enhances the site’s history and village-like quality, with buildings of different scales and eras, enriched by a biodiverse landscape, mature trees and views out over parkland. Tranquil and humanly scaled, it epitomises the conviviality and intimacy of North Oxford, providing communal spaces for the collaborative work and social life of the College's growing community.
On 24 October, senior leaders of St Edmund Hall, the alumni community, donors, and project team members gathered on site in Norham Gardens to ceremoniously break ground and initiate construction on the new Passivhaus campus.
Hall alumni, staff and students, SDC Construction, Wright & Wright Architects and other members of the project gathered to hear speeches by the Rt Hon the Lord Patten of Barnes CH, Visitor of the Hall and Chancellor of Oxford University, and Principal Professor Baroness Willis who spoke about the importance of the development in providing accommodation for all the Hall’s undergraduate students during the entirety of their course for the first time in the College’s history.
The brief also stipulated that the scheme should be a paradigm of sustainable development and enhance well-being, with exemplary ecological and energy use credentials, reflecting St Edmund Hall’s long-term ambition to become the greenest and most environmentally sustainable college in Oxford.
New construction will be designed to rigorous Passivhaus standards, and the Victorian villa retrofitted to equivalent low-energy EnerPhit principles. Sustainably sourced materials with low levels of embodied carbon have been prioritised.
The landscape and ecology strategy is designed to improve and enhance biodiversity, with an 80% net gain across the site. Construction will commence in summer 2023, and the project is due to be completed in 2026.