Compiled by Team IAND
Photography: Luke Hayes; courtesy ZHA
The new meandering steel structure by Zaha Hadid Architects that connects the disparate buildings within the Oxford University campus is a modern yet sensitive approach to reflect the historic structures and their surrounds...
The new Investcorp Building for the Middle East Centre defines a series of spaces for the centre’s renowned archive, library and seminar programmes; expanding its commitment as a vital forum of research, understanding and open debate. It not only provides 1,127 square metres of additional floor space and a new 117-seat lecture theatre, but doubles the space available for the centre’s expanding library and archive, providing optimum conditions to conserve and manage its vast and important collections.
The three-dimensional curved form of the library reading room’s western façade sensitively accommodates the century-old Sequoia tree; while the sinuous curve of the librarians’ offices rises towards the height of the 1970 brutalist Hilda Besse Building towards the east.
Built from in-situ reinforced concrete, with the exception of the roof, which has glulam timber as its main structural material, the building’s exposed concrete structure has necessitated special attention in the design and detailing viz., finite element analysis in the absence of expansion joints and linear lighting slots in the exposed soffit of the first floor slab, which in turn is supported along its front edge by a ‘V’-shaped column to deliver an expansive ground floor circulation space.
The curved roof, covered by stainless steel cladding, is the main feature of the building. Its fluid form covers the entire footprint as well as partially cantilevering over the external pavement. An orthogonal pattern supports the steel cladding, forming an array of straight frames that change dimensionally according to the building’s form.
Using precision-engineered BIM technology, the building design aspires for high performance and environmental responsibility with the integration of unobtrusive acoustic treatments.
This project provides a very good example of how contemporary construction and architecture can be executed within a space framed by traditional architecture.