Large-scale development providing new student accommodation and a range of academic facilities, with an advanced scientific research centre housed in a large new basement.

As part of Eckersley O’Callaghan’s established relationship with Keble College, we have been providing structural engineering services for the HB Allen Centre, a large mixed-use academic complex. We have worked with the rest of the design team since initial design in 2007 to fully detail the building.

The development provides new residential space for 250 students, a new lecture theatre, library, café, seminar spaces, leisure facilities, and a further standalone academic building. A driverless car research group will be one of the occupants of a large new basement, which will feature a car lift to serve their needs.

With the uses of the building varying across multiple levels, from student living space to advanced specialist research facilities, it has been essential that the structural design is carefully coordinated to meet the services requirements at every level.

A key challenge has involved retaining the Grade II-listed Acland House, which has been temporarily supported on large piles and a reinforced concrete transfer slab during the excavation of the new basement. With the basement slab formed, new walls were constructed, and the building’s load was then transferred onto them. The use of a raft slab foundation negated the need for 500 piles.

The basement and upper floors have a reinforced concrete frame, which is crowned with a steel frame rood structure. The equivalent of 1200 tonnes of CO2 have been saved through the specification of cement replacement materials (55% GGBS).

Seven cantilevering steel-and-glass staircases act as focal points within the building, each designed according to its individual situation. The staircases act as unifying architectural details within the structure.

Location 
Oxford, UK

Client 
Keble College

Architect 
Rick Mather Architects / MICA