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Sunday, June 26, 2022

University College shortlisted for prestigious award

Elena Rotzokou reports.

A university development has been shortlisted in the Project Category for the Housing Design Awards 2022.

The Univ North development in North Oxford, an appendage to University College Oxford (Univ), will soon be underway. University College is in the pre-qualification stage at the moment with five contractors. Evaluation will be taking place over the course of April and May, with selection due to be finalised in the summer of 2022. Demolition of the present site is scheduled for this autumn and building work is due to begin in spring of next year.

The project was designed by architect Niall McLaughlin, shortlisted for the Stirling Prize, and celebrated landscape designer, Kim Wilkie. Permission for the project was granted in 2020.

The new community has been described as being “complementary” to the main campus of University College Oxford, which is situated on High Street.

Univ North will be collegiate and landscape-driven. It will provide extra accommodation for students, housing 150 ensuite study bedrooms. It will also consist of a gym, study, café, meeting and lecture spaces, as well as a nursery with outdoor space that can accommodate up to 54 children. It will further be the seat of the existing Fairfield Residential Home.

Additionally, Univ North will consist of rejuvenated historical orchards, landscape gardens, and an environment centred on “wellbeing, sustainability and shared purpose.”

The community aims to serve three functions: to be a living, study, and social space for University College students and fellows.

Four thematic tours have been organised on-site thus far: Nursery, Project Planning, Intergenerational Living, and the History of Stavertonia. They have attracted a mixture of student and staff members, old members of the university, local residents, and other people interested in the development project.

Excitement has been running high amongst college attendees. Sam Williamson, current student and JCR President, said “…Univ North will be a fantastic addition to the College and I’m very excited to see it start to become reality.”

Stuart Taylor, a 1980 alumnus, has echoed this sentiment: “…The plans for Univ North are impressive indeed and I’m looking forward to seeing it take shape over the next couple of years.”

The prestigious Housing Design Award was created originally for the purpose of explaining how residents understand innovative design and whether it is replicable. It is the sole award promoted by all major relevant professional institutions: Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Landscape Institute, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists. The Award’s panel will consist of government officials, industry experts, and enthusiasts.

Credit for the award shortlisting has been given to University College and its partners and contractors. Andrew Grant, University College’s Finance Bursar, noted: “We’re delighted to be shortlisted for the prestigious Housing Design Awards.” He went on to point out: “Our Univ North scheme can only be realised thanks to the dedication, hard work and commitment of our team at University College, our partners with whom we’re working on the project, our excellent architect and landscape designer, and of course, our wonderful Old Members and friends.”

Winners for the Award are scheduled to be announced in July of this year.

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