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De Breyne and Hayward Buildings at Keble College, Including Middle Common Room and Bar, Fellows Flat, Transformer Station, Workshops and Gates

A Grade II* Listed Building in Oxford, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.7583 / 51°45'29"N

Longitude: -1.258 / 1°15'28"W

OS Eastings: 451310

OS Northings: 206884

OS Grid: SP513068

Mapcode National: GBR 8YY.LSX

Mapcode Global: VHCXV.42TD

Entry Name: De Breyne and Hayward Buildings at Keble College, Including Middle Common Room and Bar, Fellows Flat, Transformer Station, Workshops and Gates

Listing Date: 4 October 1999

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1130378

English Heritage Legacy ID: 477847

Location: Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1

County: Oxfordshire

District: Oxford

Town: Oxford

Electoral Ward/Division: Carfax

Built-Up Area: Oxford

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Oxford St Giles

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

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Listing Text

(East side)
De Breyne and Hayward Buildings
At Keble College, including
Middle Common Room and Bar, fellows'
Flat, transformer station,
Workshop and gates


Block of 82 study bedrooms for fellows, graduates and undergraduates, with two fellows' flats, middle common room and related facilities, a workshop and electricity transformer station. 1971-3, 1975-7 by Ahrends, Burton and Koralek, partner in charge Peter Ahrends, job architect Graham Anthony; engineers Ove Arup and Partners. Honey-coloured brick exterior to Blackhall Road, with paviours to covered walkway, blockwork inner walls, and brown acrylic-painted aluminium patent glazing with bronze tinted glass to internal quad. The plan resembles a snake which slowly uncoils down Blackhall Road, the block descending in height as it does from five storeys to one, with study bedrooms at the higher end set in pairs off staircases with kitchens and showers on alternate levels, and the transformer station and one flat set divided by a set of gates from the workshop, the other flat and common room at the low end of the principal building.

The elevation to Blackhall Road is treated as a wall, with chamfered corners and copings. Projecting buttresses reflect the form of the Gothic buildings behind and conceal slit windows to kitchens and showers, and with narrow paired windows to study bedrooms. Larger windows to first-floor flat with roof garden set over workshop; round opening in single-storey wall masks garden to second flat. Similar treatment to end of De Breyne building facing quad. On the garden side, continuous patent glazing, angled over walkway in semi-basement, with ventilation gap between it and brick walls, and angled too over lowest range of bedrooms and entrances to stairs. Each floor of glazing projects slightly from the face, with chamfers above and below, and there is a continuous pattern of brown mullions. The same use of brick and glass to the corresponding faces of the middle common room, which has entrance down steps in matching paviours, via tree planters, rooftop landscaping in built-in beds by James Hope. Brown door with glass panel which has the rounded edges typical of the early 1970s, leads to bar. Solid timber gates to workshop yard. Beyond it the building is treated as a wall, in which a circle with a timber screen lights a small courtyard.

Interiors. End staircase (DB1) a spiral staircase with toplighting; the other staircases have straight flights, all set between unpainted brickwork and exposed concrete floors. Study bedrooms with fixed shelving and fittings designed by John Makepeace, who had already worked with ABK at what is now Templeton College. The walkways with paviours to match the honey brickwork. The principal interior is the middle common room, which has a walkway set round fixed areas of seating defined with brickwork, semi-circular fixed seats and layout designed by Makepeace. Pendant light fittings over each table. Bar on inside wall. The student flats with fitted shelving and cupboards devised by ABK and Makepeace.

Ahrends, Burton and Koralek were appointed in 1969 following an invited interview, to extend Keble's accommodation on a site suggested by Casson and Conder's development plan. Their first proposal was to retain the nineteenth century houses on the site and link them by a covered way, which survives in the present scheme, but the college had determined on a new building and had begun an appeal. The result is a clever way of fitting on a tight site, and a brilliant response to the difficulty of relating to Butterfield's flamboyant Gothic neighbour. It is the first use of a curve in ABK's work, later to become one of their hallmarks, and its honey-coloured brick and angled dark glass are a sophisticated contrast to Butterfield's work. The building is immaculately detailed and little altered, and is probably ABK's best-known and most successful English work. The solution to the tight site is reminiscent of Powell and Moya's equally celebrated narrow buildings at St John's, Cambridge, and Christ Church, Oxford, but is more sinuous and romantic in its treatment. Mark Girouard wrote that `it doesn't compete with or attempt to blend in with Butterfield's polychromy, it just reflects it. Inside the quad the architecture becomes self-contained and the glass walls reflect each other or the tree planted in the centre' (Architectural Review, 1973). It is a building which responds to its difficult brief with an exceptionally clear, cohesive and successful solution.

Architectural Review, July 1973, pp.5-16
Architects' Journal, 6 November 1974, pp.1119-20
Arup Journal, June 1976, pp.31-5
Building Design, 6 May 1977, pp.18-19
Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, October 1977,
Architectural Review, December 1977, pp.350-63

Listing NGR: SP5131006884

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