The Queen’s College, Oxford, asked Malcolm Reading Consultants to run a private invited competition to find the best architectural team for their Porters’ Lodge project.
The College’s front quadrangle is one of the great Baroque set-pieces of Oxford (probably by Hawksmoor) and is now Grade I listed.
But the Porters’ Lodge, the vital point of entry and introduction to the College, set within this architectural masterpiece, is by contrast an unprepossessing, modest structure, somewhat dated and failing to provide many modern facilities and functions.
The College wished to create a sense of arrival – the theme for the competition.
MRC wrote the Brief for the project and sought expressions of interest from sixteen practices, which were identified as being a good match to the project, having an excellent track record in delivery and plenty of creativity.
Subsequently, MRC put together a shortlist, which combined young and emerging practices with more established firms. Six practices were asked to develop concept designs.
As competition organiser, Malcolm Reading, commented:
‘Even by MRC’s standards, the submissions were exceptional in terms of the range of imaginative response to the project and the daringly fresh thinking employed.’
‘These schemes demonstrate how contemporary architecture can work sensitively in even the grandest of settings.’
The College had not previously held an architectural competition and was delighted with the process which gave them a fresh perspective on the project and allowed extensive exploration of the available options for development, including those not previously imagined.
The competition was won by award-winning practice Burd Haward Architects (BHA).