Pembroke College is to expand significantly in a building project which will add two new quads to its existing city centre site.

Pembroke, currently one of Oxford’s physically smaller colleges, will have its main site increased by around 30 per cent. The large development will create a café, seminar rooms, art gallery, assembly room and an all-purpose auditorium, together with accommodation space for a whole year of Pembroke undergraduates.

The work will include the demolition of a collection of buildings acquired by the college in recent years, including old industrial and retail sites to the south of Brewer street. These will be replaced by two new quads in the collegiate style, to be connected to the existing site by a footbridge over the street.

The expansion has been made possible by a fundraising campaign called ‘Bridging Centuries’, through which the college has already raised £9 million out of a targeted £17 million of donations. It is part of Oxford University’s ‘Oxford Thinking’ campaign, which recently passed the £1 billion mark.

The overall cost of the project is £29 million, the remainder of which will be provided by a bank loan.

The development is the culmination of years of planning by the college. Giles Henderson, the Master of Pembroke, said, “It is no mere annexe we are building. This is a major extension of our main site which will benefit members of Pembroke and visitors for years to come.”

Andrew Seton, Strategic Development Director at Pembroke, called the project “nothing short of transformational”.

Mr Seton added, “Pembroke is a great community. It has not had the same facilities as other colleges. Our students deserve more than there are at the moment, and this lovely expansion will provide for that.”

Students have expressed their enthusiasm for the plans, which will also provide a number of en-suite study bedrooms.

Alex Joynes, a second-year student at Pembroke, said, “It’s all very exciting for us. For me, the most impressive plans are those for the art gallery and auditorium, which will really help to show Pembroke’s strong arts side.”

A fundraising campaign is appealing to alumni and friends of Pembroke from across the Atlantic, with separate UK and US campaign boards which launched respectively in London and Washington DC last month.

The college still needs a further £8 million of donations to ‘Bridging Centuries’ to enable on-time completion, intended for 2012.