Magdalen College is set to start building works in order to extend its library on to one of its oldest quads.
The library extensions will be set in a sunken landscape garden to be built in Longwall Quad and will also see the construction of a new cycle parking area. The works will also include the restoration of other parts of Longwall Street. Enabling works are set to take place over the next four months, which include site investigations and the removal of two birch trees and the lawn.
The approval for planning permission was granted despite fears from the Victorian Group of the Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society that the new works would “obliterate an important phase in the building’s history.”
One of the conditions attached to the planning permission is that a full archaeological survey of the site be taken before building begins. Charles King, the Investment Bursar at Magdalen College, explained, “We will not know what sort of artifacts we will find until we start work…but any artifacts found in these circumstances usually go to the Oxford Archaeological Museum.”
Previous archaeological investigations found medieval remains in and around the quad.
The new plans have been met with mixed reaction from Magdalen students. First year biologist Peter Gleeson told Cherwell, “Longwall Quad is one of the nicest quads in Oxford, it would be a shame to remove its quaint charm with what isn’t a particularly attractive building.” He added, “Having seen the artist’s impressions, I will admit it could be a lot worse, but it is far from the ideal solution.”
First year chemist Alasdair Griffet said, “I personally think the designs are awful and Willy Waynflete would turn in his grave. We should just build another tower and put a library in that.’
However, Alice Ahearn was more positive, saying, “I obviously think it’s sad about the silver birches and the lawn, but in the end if they need more space for the books I think function has to come first – and grass grows back fairly quickly.’
However, despite some negative views about the building works, Mr Young informed Cherwell, “Far more people have been encouraging, saying that it is an interesting and creative design.”