Designs have been released for Zaha Hadid’s Middle East Centre, part of St Anthony’s College, University of Oxford. The structure will open up new public spaces and reconnect the Middle East Centre, the university’s centre for interdisciplinary study of the Modern Middle East, with the south boundary of the College through a new organised quad link.
Plans for the building divided local residents, with some suggesting that the building would look out of place next to its Victorian counterparts. However, it was finally given full planning permission in March this year after issues with a redwood tree on the site were resolved.
The 1,200 sq m funnel-shaped addition will separate 68 and 66-64 Woodstock Road and house a reading room, library, storage space and a lecture hall. The shell of the suspended structure will be linked to an open area by a central staircase that leads to the new library and archive. The contrast in scale and depth will be highlighted by the concave/convex nature of the main reading spaces. The sweeping form of the bridging shell is mirrored horizontally in the forecourt access area, where a curved concave/convex frameless glass façade reveals the public plateau and frames the main access point.
The design is expected to go out to tender next year, with groundbreaking planned for 2011.