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For over 40 years, St John’s College had been looking for a way to extend its historic Laudian Library in Canterbury Quadrangle.  Wright & Wright's new Study Centre and Archive resolved this conundrum.  Balanced in scale, faced in stone sumptuously modelled by artist Susannah Heron, it sits discreetly behind a 17th-century wall in the President’s Garden, connected with Canterbury Quad but also read autonomously as a new building in its own right.

The Library and Study Centre's light-filled Seminar Room and Reading Room offer inviting spaces for quiet study or communal gathering.

Housing the College’s world-class Special Collections and containing 120 reader desks, the new Study Centre creates an active connection between Canterbury Quad and the more modern elements of the College, strengthening links between different eras.  The site in the President’s Garden was chosen as it had the least impact on existing surroundings and landscape, while enabling library resources to be consolidated in a single location in strictly environmentally controlled conditions.

The Library and Study Centre at St John's College is situated as a discreet, connective element amongst a diverse set of historic buildings on campus.

Our new Library and Study Centre is a wonderful building, full of innovative reading spaces and of light, and with stunning views over the Groves. 

The Study Centre reflects the values of St John’s in so many ways: it is a building designed to support excellence and will stand as a symbol of our commitment to scholarship and to diverse study needs for generations to come.

Professor Maggie Snowling CBE
Former President, St John's College Oxford

An early sketch for the Library and Study Centre at St John's College, Wright & Wright.

Set along the east edge of the garden, the Study Centre is accessed by the Otranto Passage, a long, thin corridor now refurbished to create a new route through Canterbury Quad.  Conceived as series of overlapping planes of masonry and glass, the Study Centre resembles a stone casket, with a complex section and thick-skinned walls that sculpt and moderate light, giving each space a distinct character. 

Poetry is combined with pragmatism, as the building incorporates a number of environmental control measures designed to reduce its energy consumption, such as a high thermal mass, heating provided by water from ground source boreholes and photovoltaic panels.  Such measures are designed to fully offset the building’s carbon emissions to achieve a carbon neutral status.