After years of building renovations to bring better facilities and services to students and conference guests, Mansfield College Governing Body this week voted to “f*** it all and start again”. This would mean destroying three years’ worth of building work that was only completed two weeks ago, which had been described by critics as “that special rarity when aesthetic disgrace meets utter futility”.
The recent vote arose out of discussion about how to build new accommodation, whilst also providing new offices to allow them to hire more fellows and make room for a larger MCR. Upon consulting with architects, it became clear that the only way to accomplish this would be to move the SCR to a marginally smaller room for 18 months and would also require them to close off all access to every part of the building they had just spent years renovating. It was decided that the best course of action would be to bulldoze the entire college and start afresh.
“Yes, the College is several hundred years old and very pretty,” the bursar told Cherwell, “but the RadCam is also pretty and what a complete inefficient waste of space that piece of crap is.”
Several students supported the proposals. One third year Physics student said, “Seriously, the original architect of Mansfield was a complete tool. He clearly had no foresight to prepare for the future demands growing numbers of conference guests could place on the College,” whilst another student complimented the governing body on its “bravery in disregarding the generic viewpoint of Oxford as a beautiful but rather outmoded institution. Finally, Oxford University will really demonstrate that it is becoming part of our market society – it’s no longer just a load of redundant Grade I listed buildings where young minds can learn and expand, it’s actually becoming useful as a business model.”
When asked what would happen to the College whilst it was being demolished and then rebuilt from scratch, one fellow suggested, “Well, we’ll probably just go and have tutorials at the Pret A Manger on Cornmarket.” When asked for further details of what this could mean for the students, she replied, “Obviously all tutes would be in the bigger Pret. You know – the one with all the chairs. Not that tiny one near Lloyds. That would be ridiculous.”
The OxStew was given an exclusive look at the proposed blueprints for the new Mansfield College. It appears that the architects have been heavily influenced by their neighbouring college, St Catherine’s, although with less attention to artistic style and more emphasis on ensuring its practical usage for years to come. Although earlier blueprints had a quad and a JCR, the quad was removed upon realisation by the members of staff that it was the perfect size for a state of the art conference room, whilst the JCR has now been adapted into what is termed “a pre-conference designated meet-and-greet networking space”.
“The college had existed in its previous form for only a couple of hundred years, but with this new building we will be able to provide an excellent base for academic learning for at least another ten… until the demands of our grow- ing faculty and members means we have to start looking at new ways for expansion, in which case, we may begin to look towards a move to Port Meadow for all of our undergraduate accomodation,” reported the bursar, whom we met in what used to Mansfield Porters’ Lodge, but has now been designated as Project HQ to calculate the maximum potential for financial exploitation of Mansfield’s 300 plus students.
Demolition is set to start in March and the building is due to be completed by January 2017 although reports say it is already running approximately six months behind schedule, despite having not yet been started.