Architecture

Zaha Hadid completes stainless steel-clad facility at Oxford University

Zaha Hadid completes stainless...
The Investcorp Building, at the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, by Zaha Hadid Architects
The Investcorp Building, at the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, by Zaha Hadid Architects
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Zaha Hadid Architects has completed work on a striking new £11 million addition to the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford
1/23
Zaha Hadid Architects has completed work on a striking new £11 million addition to the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford
The building contrasts markedly with nearby Brutalist and Victorian architecture
2/23
The building contrasts markedly with nearby Brutalist and Victorian architecture
The Investcorp Building is clad in stainless steel and features the architect's trademark flowing curves employed to full effect
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The Investcorp Building is clad in stainless steel and features the architect's trademark flowing curves employed to full effect
The Investcorp building comprises 1,127 sq m (12,130 sq ft) of usable floorspace
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The Investcorp building comprises 1,127 sq m (12,130 sq ft) of usable floorspace
The building serves to double the available space for the Middle East Centre's library and archive
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The building serves to double the available space for the Middle East Centre's library and archive
The Investcorp building comprises a reinforced concrete structure, and a glulam (glued laminated timber) frame roof
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The Investcorp building comprises a reinforced concrete structure, and a glulam (glued laminated timber) frame roof
The building contrasts markedly with nearby Brutalist and Victorian architecture
7/23
The building contrasts markedly with nearby Brutalist and Victorian architecture
The building contrasts markedly with nearby Brutalist and Victorian architecture
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The building contrasts markedly with nearby Brutalist and Victorian architecture
The building is clad in electro-polished stainless steel
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The building is clad in electro-polished stainless steel
The building also curves to avoid disturbing a protected sequoia tree
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The building also curves to avoid disturbing a protected sequoia tree
"As one of Britain’s most acclaimed architects, with roots firmly in the Middle East, Zaha Hadid was the ideal choice for this project," said Director of the Middle East Centre, Dr Eugene Rogan
11/23
"As one of Britain’s most acclaimed architects, with roots firmly in the Middle East, Zaha Hadid was the ideal choice for this project," said Director of the Middle East Centre, Dr Eugene Rogan
Zaha Hadid Architects has completed work on a striking new £11 million addition to the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford
12/23
Zaha Hadid Architects has completed work on a striking new £11 million addition to the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford
The building contrasts markedly with nearby Brutalist and Victorian architecture
13/23
The building contrasts markedly with nearby Brutalist and Victorian architecture
The Investcorp Building, at the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, by Zaha Hadid Architects
14/23
The Investcorp Building, at the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, by Zaha Hadid Architects
The lecture theater is situated below ground and features some complex engineering to ensure appropriate ventilation
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The lecture theater is situated below ground and features some complex engineering to ensure appropriate ventilation
Inside the Investcorp Building
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Inside the Investcorp Building
Inside the Investcorp Building
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Inside the Investcorp Building
The archive includes over 400 collections of private papers and 100,000 historic photographs concerning the modern Middle East.
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The archive includes over 400 collections of private papers and 100,000 historic photographs concerning the modern Middle East.
Inside the Investcorp Building
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Inside the Investcorp Building
The interior includes a lecture theater, a gallery, library, an archives room and archive reading rooms
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The interior includes a lecture theater, a gallery, library, an archives room and archive reading rooms
The interior is finished mostly in oak veneer timber panels and unfinished pre-cast concrete
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The interior is finished mostly in oak veneer timber panels and unfinished pre-cast concrete
Inside the Investcorp Building
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Inside the Investcorp Building
The interior is finished mostly in oak veneer timber panels and unfinished pre-cast concrete
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The interior is finished mostly in oak veneer timber panels and unfinished pre-cast concrete
View gallery - 23 images

Zaha Hadid Architects has completed work on a striking new £11 million (US$17 million) addition to the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. Contrasting markedly with nearby Brutalist and Victorian architecture, the modernist Investcorp Building is clad in stainless steel and sees the architect's distinctive flowing style used to great effect.

Comprising 1,127 sq m (12,130 sq ft) of usable floorspace split over three main floors and a basement, the Investcorp Building (named after the company that stumped up the cash for the project) doubles available space for the Middle East Centre. The building features a reinforced concrete primary structure, a glulam (glued laminated timber)-framed roof, and is clad in polished stainless steel. Its flowing form moves between two other buildings, and also curves to avoid harming a protected sequoia tree.

The interior is finished to a very high standard, and the decor is dominated by oak veneer timber panels and unfinished pre-cast concrete. The new rooms in the facility include a lecture theater, a gallery, library and archive reading rooms. The archives room boasts over 400 collections of private papers and 100,000 historic photographs concerning the modern Middle East for scholars and academic specialists to pore over.

The 118-seat lecture theater features a complex ventilation system which introduces cold air underneath the seats, while rising warm air is collected from near the roof. A ground-source heat pump aids temperature control in the archive, and two thermal labyrinths are employed to passively cool the building's interior during warmer weather. We've no further information on how the thermal labyrinths work, but they likely involve a number of lengthy concrete corridors deep in the ground in which air can be cooled or warmed by making use of the earth's natural insulating properties. In addition, 25 skylights ensure ample natural daylight permeates the building.

"As one of Britain’s most acclaimed architects, with roots firmly in the Middle East, Zaha Hadid was the ideal choice for this project," said Director of the Middle East Centre, Dr Eugene Rogan. "Her history parallels our vision of Oxford’s Middle East Centre as a British center of excellence with deep roots in the region. With this new building, the Middle East Centre enters a new era as one of the world’s finest research facilities on this area of crucial public interest."

Sources: Zaha Hadid Architects, University of Oxford

View gallery - 23 images
5 comments
Wayne Taylor
Did Oxford University ask for the ugliest, most out-of-place design someone could come up with? It doesn't fit. It looks terrible!
Madlyb
While I appreciate the design for the most part, I feel the architects made absolutely no effort to connect this building with its surroundings and the result diminishes both the building and the surroundings.
VoiceofReason
Is this going to melt cars like some other recent London buildings?
http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/03/world/europe/uk-london-building-melts-car/index.html
bergamot69
Hmm, the building itself is incredible in isolation, but juxtaposed with the Victorian building next door it looks like some giant mutant metal slug crawling over the garden wall.
Timelord
@Wayne Taylor, They obviously didn't "ask for the ugliest, most out-of-place design someone could come up with." If they had, Frank Gehry surely would have won.