Exeter College Cohen Quad, University of Oxford
The new 6,000m2 Cohen Quad at Walton Street expands Exeter College's existing facilities. Designed as a stand-alone campus, the new building includes accommodation for students and fellows, social learning spaces, a performance and lecture hall, a canteen, teaching facilities, music practice rooms, IT and games areas, a roof terrace, and offices.
Following a competition, Max Fordham were appointed to provide MEP and Acoustics services, alongside Alison Brooks Architects. The governing body of the College tasked the design team to create a new campus that reinforced the values of the college and complemented the main Exeter College campus, while remaining adaptable in use and ageing gracefully.
Cohen Quad sits on a constrained city centre site, previously the home of Ruskin College. As a requirement of planning, the new building had to retain part of the existing facade, including the windows.
Wherever possible, the building utilises natural ventilation with manual and automatic openings, and utilises large amounts of exposed thermal mass to reduce the need for active conditioning. Through detailed coordination with the architect and structural engineer, most services are discreetly concealed within the exposed concrete.
A solar thermal array provides a large proportion of the building’s hot water requirements. Air source heat pumps provide cooling in the summer and low carbon heating in the winter. Over 20% of the building’s energy usage is generated on-site by these two technologies, in line with Oxford’s planning requirements of the time.
The passive archive relies on high thermal mass and carefully-controlled usage, along with a minimal amount of active plant to keep the internal conditions as stable as possible across the seasons.
A flexible acoustic strategy in the main Hall is critical to its success in serving lectures, drama and music.