121 St. Clare’s

St Clares from Hodder + Partners

121 St. Clare’s

St. Clare’s is a private sixth-form college which provides courses in the International Baccalaureate. It was founded in 1953 and has 375 students, most of whom are boarders. 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.

St Clares from Hodder + Partners
St Clares from Hodder + Partners
St Clares from Hodder + Partners
St Clares from Hodder + Partners

St. Clare’s is a private sixth-form college which provides courses in the International Baccalaureate. It was founded in 1953 and has 375 students, most of whom are boarders. 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 villa is set back from the main road and in the 1960s an extra wing was clumsily added to fill the large gardens at the rear of the house.

This has now been replaced by five new individual buildings designed by architect Hodder and Partners. 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. With their clean modern lines, these new buildings contrast well with the ornate flourishes of Hare’s original villa.

Viewed from the main Banbury Road entrance, the villa is now flanked on one side by a new two storey three-bedroom house for the warden, clad with precast concrete panels on the ground floor, vertical oak boards on the first floor and edged with a crisp zinc roof. On its other side is a new single storey building which extends beyond the villa and into the rear quadrangle, rising to form a lofty and spacious timberlined Arts Studio. On the far side of the quadrangle, facing the original villa, stands the new Garden Pavilion, a pair of linked two and three-storey buildings, one of which is sunk half a storey into the ground to reduce its visual impact on neighbours.

The quadrangle has been completed on the south side by the South Pavilion, a new two storey building. Both the Garden Pavilion and the the South Pavilion contain double and single study bedrooms and their cellular nature is clearly expressed in both structure and façade; the cross laminated timber wall and floor frames, clad with oak, are strongly articulated on the façades and enclose a series of recessed structurally glazed bay windows, one for each study bedroom. A desk is fitted at each bay window alongside an oak-clad panel which pivots open for ventilation.

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