Oxford University in the UK has started construction on a new building for the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College.
Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the new three-storey building, dubbed Softbridge, will form a suspended ‘bridge’ between numbers 66 and 68 Woodstock Road.
The building will feature 1,200m² of floor-space with a new 125-seat lecture theatre with disabled access replacing the cramped rooms in which public seminars are currently held.
The facility will also feature a new library and an archive facility, doubling the amount of space currently available.
Upon completion, the building will be known as ‘The Investcorp Building’ as the global alternative asset management company, Investcorp, has provided a £11m donation for the facility.
Zaha Hadid Architects founder Zaha Hadid said the new building will allow the college to further develop its library and seminar programmes as a forum for the exchange of ideas.
"The design defines a series of academic and research facilities using a formal language of paths and connections that allows the existing buildings to be read as separate elements, maintaining their current detached character," Hadid said.
"The floating nature of the ‘bridge’ is emphasised via its stainless steel cladding which has a light and ephemeral appearance to echo its context."
After completion, the Middle East Centre Library and the archive will move into purpose-built facilities, providing resources to conserve and manage the collections, which will in turn make space available in the existing buildings for 14 academic offices as well as a seminar room.
Construction of the building is expected to be completed by the summer of 2014.
Softbridge building is Zaha Hadid Architects’ fifth building in the UK after the Maggie’s Centre in Fife, the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton and the London Aquatics Centre.
Image: Upon completion, Softbridge building will feature 1,200m² of floor-space and a new 125-seat lecture theatre. Photo: Zaha Hadid Architects.