Oxford starts work on multi-million facilities extension

Stepnell to deliver £13.5M new library scheme at St John's College Oxford

Construction has started on a £13.5 million new library and study centre extension to St John’s College library at the University of Oxford. 

Stepnell is building the new facility, which will provide a two-storey study centre and central archive within part of the President’s Garden. The award of the project follows Stepnell’s refurbishment and extension last year of the New Library at Magdalen College. Both schemes were designed by Wright & Wright Architects.

Steve Burgess, regional director for Stepnell, said: “The new library and study centre will provide students with an enhanced learning environment along with much-needed flexible space and state-of-the-art equipment to meet 21st century requirements. We are also looking forward to working again with the local supply chain and seeing this fantastic facility take shape.”

The new study centre and library extension will link the College’s Canterbury Quadrangle, which houses three of its four listed libraries – the Laudian Library, the Paddy Room and the 15th century Old Library – from The Groves area of St John’s College, a Grade II-listed park and garden, through to the President’s Garden. The College’s library buildings currently house important early and rare books, manuscripts, special collections and literary archives, dating from the ninth century, from Aelfric to Spike Milligan.

The cutting-edge new building, which will join the Laudian Library at the first-floor, will double the current library seating facilities and significantly increase the current book shelving capacity. The facility will also feature a variety of different types of study space, including teaching and seminar facilities, rooms for group study, and an informal study area reflecting current trends in undergraduate academic study.         

The basement will provide a climate-controlled archive area which will consolidate the College’s rare books and special collections in one central location. Power and heating for the new building will be generated from renewable sources of energy in the form of ground source heating from under the Great Lawn in The Groves area and photovoltaic panels on the roof of the new study centre. Any excess energy generated by the renewable technologies, will be used to offset carbon emissions from the existing buildings. 

The building’s design features a number of other passive measures to minimise energy use including high levels of building insulation and natural lighting and ventilation.