Carter Jonas achieves planning permission for significant addition to University of Oxford’s property portfolio
Date of Article
Mar 10 2022
Planning & development

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Carter Jonas has achieved planning permission on behalf of the University of Oxford for a new Humanities Building, to be located on a 1.4 hectare site within the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, in the centre of Oxford. The proposals received unanimous support from Oxford City Council’s Planning Committee. 

The addition to the University’s property portfolio will include academic faculty spaces, a 500-seat concert hall, a theatre, an experimental performance laboratory, a lecture hall, public engagement and outreach facilities, and new public and landscaped open spaces.

The exceptional building will house the faculties and libraries of the Humanities Division of the University of Oxford. It will create a strong visual identity and give expression to the world’s foremost centre for scholarship and teaching in the humanities. 

For the first time in the University’s almost 1,000 year old history, it will bring together seven Humanities faculties and their six libraries (to be combined into the new Bodleian Humanities Library), along with a high-profile new home for the Institute for Ethics in AI, the Oxford Internet Institute, the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments and a number of facilities for performance and public engagement. 

CGI of Oxford University assembly hall

The new Humanities building will also provide a base for the Humanities Cultural Programme. This is a major initiative of cultural events and public engagement activities which aims to reaffirm the value of the humanities, to share the insights of the humanities and engage new audiences of all ages. The Humanities Cultural Programme is being created in collaboration across all the Humanities Faculties and with local, national and international partners. The programme will attract world class musicians and other performers to Oxford, to perform in the concert hall and other venues in the new building. 

A new Great Hall in the centre of the building, topped by a rooflight dome, will create a new urban public room for the city of Oxford and a public route and through it.

Stephanie Weeks, Associate Partner at Carter Jonas in Oxford commented, ‘This exciting project will change the shape of Oxford. It will benefit the world’s leading University by providing a wide range of new academic facilities. Importantly, much of the new development will also benefit both the people of Oxford and visitors to the University from across the globe. We were extremely pleased to be part of this significant contribution to culture and learning in Oxford.’

Professor William Whyte, Professor or Architectural History at the University of Oxford commented, ‘We are delighted that our proposal has been accepted by the City Council. It is thanks to the hundreds of conversations with scores of people across the city over the last two years that we’ve been able to create such an inspirational design for a building which will be a pioneering example of sustainability in architecture’.

Work is due to start in late 2022 and to complete in 2025.

In preparing the planning application, Carter Jonas worked with Hopkins Architects, CPC Project Services and Gillespies landscape architects.