New case study: 121, St Clare’s, Oxford

27 January 2017

A series of five new buildings constructed from cross-laminated timber (CLT) and clad extensively with a rainscreen of vertical oak boards form the completed project at 121, St Clare’s, a private sixth form college. Designed by architect Hodder and Partners, St Clare’s was shortlisted in the Education and Public Sector in the 2016 Wood Awards.

St. Clare’s is a private sixth-form college which provides courses in the International Baccalaureate. The college is housed in a number of discreet ‘villas’ along the Banbury Road, Oxford, one of which, a fine detached Grade II listed Arts and Crafts villa, was built in 1903 to the design of the architect Henry Thomas Hare, a former RIBA president.

The new buildings are positioned with great care at the rear of the villa, woven between existing mature trees and linked by walkways to create a semi-enclosed quadrangle reminiscent of the traditional Oxford college layout. The accommodation includes 36 study bedrooms, rooms for three wardens, two common rooms, and an Arts Studio.

A CLT structure of wall and floor panels was the ideal choice for the Garden Pavilion and the South Pavilion, exactly reflecting the cellular nature of the study bedroom accommodation.

CLT had other advantages; the position of the listed building gave very restricted access to the rear of the site, but as they were lightweight and cellular, the CLT panels could be craned right over it. In addition, the client required the project to be completed in time for the start of the new academic year; this required a construction methodology, such as CLT, which was efficient and suited the site constraints.

The wall and floor panels used for the structure of the pavilions are generally 100mm thick spruce CLT; they are clad with insulation and a rainscreen of vertical oak boards. The fire resisting properties of CLT were especially useful in areas such as the lift shafts. In the Arts Studio, the oak glulam structure and the CLT wall and roof panels are exposed, creating a warm and tactile interior.

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Alsford Timber

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