The Oriel College Design Competition

Re-programming Oriel’s social spaces


Oriel, a friendly and attractive College in the centre of Oxford, was founded in 1326 by King Edward II. It takes its name from one of the original buildings, La Oriole, which stood on the site of the present Front Quadrangle. Today, the College has nearly 50 Fellows (representing some 30 subjects) plus 300 undergraduates, 200 graduate students and 150 non-academic and support staff.

Oriel’s elegant buildings exemplify ‘Gothic Survival’ design, a style characterised by ‘a modest gothic idiom and framework’, combined with typical 17th-century design elements.

This design competition focuses on the wedge-shaped area that lies between the Hall, Chapel and the medieval wall running along Magpie Lane. The site includes the dining hall, the bar, the kitchen and back-of-house supporting spaces. Additional facilities such as the Junior Common Room may be added.

The College is looking for an outstanding team for this £5–10 m project. The challenge is to rethink spatial links, introduce modern facilities and services and enhance accessibility and flexibility of use − all of which will improve the experience of these key social spaces.

At the same time, the successful team must remain sensitive to the historic setting and fabric.

Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC), an independent expert organiser of design competitions, is managing the two-stage competition on behalf of the College. The winning team will be appointed to develop their design and to deliver the project.