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St Hugh's College Kenyon Building

A Grade II Listed Building in Oxford, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.7667 / 51°45'59"N

Longitude: -1.2645 / 1°15'52"W

OS Eastings: 450854

OS Northings: 207809

OS Grid: SP508078

Mapcode National: GBR 7XL.C39

Mapcode Global: VHCXN.1VCK

Entry Name: St Hugh's College Kenyon Building

Listing Date: 7 October 2008

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392941

English Heritage Legacy ID: 493664

Location: Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX2

County: Oxfordshire

District: Oxford

Town: Oxford

Electoral Ward/Division: St Margaret's

Built-Up Area: Oxford

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Oxford St Philip and St James with St Margaret

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

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Listing Text

612/0/10123 St Hugh's College Kenyon Building

Study bedrooms for 47 undergraduates, with three flats for fellows and caretaker, and common room. 1964-6 Architect: David Roberts, with associates Geoffrey Clarke and Peter Hall.

MATERIALS: Reinforced concrete clad in red brick with exposed concrete balconies and fascias now painted, flat roofs with projecting lift shaft, stairwells and flue.

PLAN: Staggered, `V'-shaped plan around central stairwell.

FAÇADE: Four storeys over raised basement, which houses common room, laundry, boiler room and caretaker's flat; fellows' flats on the first floor facing south; other floors a common plan of study bedrooms all with a south-facing window around central staircase.

External stairs lead to entrance on broad north façade, set between two brick piers housing lift, escape stairs and bathrooms. This elevation largely blind, save for windows in return angles of piers and lighting entrance and corridors. Other elevations have stepped sections, panels of brickwork alternating with vertical bands of black sashes; rooms on south elevation have balconies save for studies to first-floor flats between narrow brick piers. Steel handrails to opening sashes and balconies.

INTERIORS: Dramatic interior with central staircase rising straight for three full flights through the middle of the building. Exposed concrete steps, walls and balustrade, with pattern of fixing holes, circular openings and timber handrails; board-marked concrete boiler flue running through open well on one side. Landings at each floor lead to corridors, screened by opaque glass. Wired glass to corridor windows and doors; glazed rooflights. Dome over tiled entrance vestibule with glass lenses. Some study bedrooms with built-in window seats and all with shelving fitment dividing dressing area. Common-room with built-in counters.

HISTORY: St Hugh's was founded as St Hugh's Hall in 1886 for girl students. In 1911 it became a college by name, and in 1959 a full college. This building was named for Dame Kathleen Kenyon, archaeologist and warden of St Hugh's 1962-73.

SOURCES: J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire (1974), 247; Architectural Review, vol.135, no.803, January 1964; Architectural Design, vol.34, no.11, November 1964, pp.277-8; David Reed and Philip Opher, New Architecture in Oxford, nd. c.1975, unpag.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: David Roberts was the first architect to specialise in university buildings in a modern idiom, beginning at Magdalene College, Cambridge, in 1953 (altered). The stepped profile to give a dual aspect to study bedrooms became a feature of his work at Castle Hill Hostel for Clare College in 1956, and was used by him at Jesus College in 1963 (already listed grade II). He went on to work at New College, Oxford, on the recommendation of Sir Leslie Martin (Sackler Building, not listable and demolished). This is his one other building in Oxford, and arguably his most accomplished building, showing the influence of Louis Kahn in its use of brick and pit-marked concrete with circular holes. A good example of a block of single study bedrooms built at modest cost, comparable with those by Alison and Peter Smithson 1968-70 at St Hilda's, Oxford, also intended for female students and already grade II. This building clearly possesses sufficient special architectural interest in terms of its planning, its spatial effects, and its place among 1960's university buildings.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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