Herzog & de Meuron
Project
2011-2013
Realisation
2013-2015

“The Blavatnik School of Government will become a global centre of excellence for the study of government and public policy. The School’s aim is to teach the practice of government and leadership in ways which will strengthen communities, create opportunities and foster cooperation across the world. The School offers Oxford University a new way to contribute to the world” — Blavatnik School of Government Brochure

Such a vision requires a specific response and building.

Our starting point is from the inside, from the heart of the building, the Forum. This space cuts through the school as a vertical public space connecting all the levels and programs together into one whole. Central to a school of government is the idea of openness, communication and transparency, the central forum takes this principle literally by stitching all levels together. In the first instance the Forum provides access between spaces, but more importantly it provides congregation, meeting and social spaces. In our proposal its arrangement is in many ways like that of an auditorium or a concert hall with a series of interconnected terraces that step up from the ground floor all the way to the upper levels of the School. Each terrace could operate as a separate space, for example as a study area or as part of one connected whole volume for a larger presentation. The Forum will be a space that allows and positively encourages communication and discussion, formal and informal, planned and accidental.

The Blavatnik School of Government will house teaching and academic spaces which are supported by meeting, administration, research and service areas which are all connected by the Forum. At its lower levels, the building houses large public and teaching programs. The upper levels around are occupied by academic and research programs that require a more quiet atmosphere to foster focus and concentration. Crowning the School will be students and faculty spaces, which overlook an outdoor terrace, the Radcliff Observatory Quarter and the whole of Oxford beyond. The School offers a wide range of teaching-space types from small flexible seminar rooms to larger, horseshoe-shaped teaching rooms.

Prominently located at the southwest corner of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) the School will be the first building pedestrians, visitors and students encounter when approaching this quarter from the south. The School has the potential to become a gateway into this new part of the University and a symbol of its development.

The immediate context is a complex situation with the adjacencies of St Paul’s Church and Somerville College to both sides and the Oxford University Press across Walton Street. The concept of the Forum in the interior sets the decisive and room-defining impulse for the entire building. This circular hollow also defines the exterior appearance of the school. Its cylindrical shapes show analogies to government buildings and universities in different places all over the world.

Our proposal of a series of shifted discs, pure geometric circles, is developed from the parameters of the site and plot boundaries. The shifting in floors creates overhangs and covered volumes and reflects the principles of the masterplan massing with the mass of the building moved northwest towards the centre of the ROQ site. The main entrance is located, in a classical manner, in the middle of the Walton Street elevation, centred underneath the main teaching floor of Level 1 whose circular geometry is transformed into a rectangular form along Walton Street, resulting in a ‘Sheldonian’ like shape. The introduction of this orthogonal form addresses the historic setting in a classical manner, both continuing the line of the St-Paul’s Church portico and echoing the symmetrical entrance of the Oxford University.

With this proposal we aim to provide a project that can act as a focal point both for the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter and the academic activity of the study of government and public policy; a landmark building housing a ground breaking School.
Herzog & de Meuron, 2016

387_CP_160113_001_IB_PRI
387_CP_160113_001_IB_PRI
387_CP_160113_0827_IB_H_3611
387_CP_160113_0827_IB_H_3611
387_CP_160113_002_IB_PRI
387_CP_160113_002_IB_PRI
387_CP_160316_702_HC_H
387_CP_160316_702_HC_H
387_CP_160225_731_HB_H
387_CP_160225_731_HB_H
387_CP_160316_712_HC_H
387_CP_160316_712_HC_H
387_CP_160113_0938_IB_H_3983
387_CP_160113_0938_IB_H_3983
387_CP_160113_1131_IB_H_4614
387_CP_160113_1131_IB_H_4614
387_CP_160113_0903_IB_H_3884
387_CP_160113_0903_IB_H_3884
387_CP_160113_0763_IB_H_3368
387_CP_160113_0763_IB_H_3368

Drawings

387_DR_1205_073_Form-2_Circle_Logic
387_DR_1205_073_Form-2_Circle_Logic
387_DR_1112_075_Comp_Volume_Diagram
387_DR_1112_075_Comp_Volume_Diagram
387_DR_1207_009_Design Principles
387_DR_1207_009_Design Principles
387_DG_130507_Circulation
387_DG_130507_Circulation
387_DG_130507_Program
387_DG_130507_Program
387_DG_130507_BSG-IAB
387_DG_130507_BSG-IAB
387_DR_1602_1080_Level-B1_HR
387_DR_1602_1080_Level-B1_HR
387_DR_1602_1000_Level-0_HR
387_DR_1602_1000_Level-0_HR
387_DR_1602_1010_Level-1_HR
387_DR_1602_1010_Level-1_HR
387_DR_1602_1030_Level-3_HR
387_DR_1602_1030_Level-3_HR
387_DR_1602_2101_Section-1_HR
387_DR_1602_2101_Section-1_HR
387_DR_1602_2102_Section-2_HR
387_DR_1602_2102_Section-2_HR
387_DT_1302_004_Typical-Facade_Section
387_DT_1302_004_Typical-Facade_Section

Team

Facts

Client
The University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
Planning
Electrical Engineering: Hoare Lea, Oxford, UK
HVAC Engineering: Hoare Lea, Oxford, UK
Landscape Design: Townshend Landscape Architects, London, UK
Mechanical Engineering: Hoare Lea, Oxford, UK
Plumbing Engineering: Hoare Lea, Oxford, UK
Structural Engineering: Pell Frischmann, London, UK
Cost Consultant: EC Harris, London, UK
Sustainability Consultant: AECOM, Bristol, UK
Vertical Transportation: Hoare Lea, Oxford, UK
Design & Build Contractor: Laing O'Rourke, Dartford, UK
Facade Consultant: Murphy Facade Studio, Dublin, Ireland
Planning Consultant: Montagu Evans, London, UK
Project Manager: Oxford University Estates Services, Oxford, UK; Gardiner & Theobald, London, UK
Specialist / Consulting
Acoustics: Hoare Lea, Oxford , UK
Facade Engineering: Murphy Facade Studio, Dublin, Ireland
Lighting: Hoare Lea, Oxford, UK
Security: Horus Security Consulting Ltd, London, UK
Planning: Montagu Evans, London, UK
Building Data
Site Area: 20'289 sqft, 1'885 sqm
Gross floor area (GFA): 105'486 sqft, 9'800 sqm
Number of levels: 8
Footprint: 13'347 sqft, 1'240 sqm
Length: 150 ft, 46 m
Width: 134 ft, 41 m
Height: 72 ft, 22 m
Gross volume (GV): 1'271'611 cbft, 36'008 cbm
Facade surface: 27'232 sqft, 2'530 sqm
Links
www.bsg.ox.ac.uk

Bibliography

Luis Fernández-Galiano (Ed.): “Arquitectura Viva Monografias. Herzog & de Meuron 2013-2017.” Vol. No. 191-192, Madrid, Arquitectura Viva SL, 12.2016.

Location