The Hands Building

New six-storey student accomodation building, featuring Cross Laminated Timber structure and reinforced concrete basement which houses an international human right institute.





Rick Mather Architects



Mansfield College, Oxford

Mansfield College is one of the smallest of the constituent colleges which make up the University of Oxford. It was founded as a non-conformist theology college in 1886. The original College buildings were amongst the finest works of the important Victorian architect Basil Champneys, and designed in the 'collegiate gothic' style. Since then the College has continued to expand in student numbers and must now re-address its growing needs.

The building stands at five stories high above ground and we originally designed the structural scheme to gain planning permission in 2008. Since then a double height basement will house the internationally recognised Bonavero Institute of Human Rights on the lower two levels, including an auditorium, a 200 seat lecture theatre and seminar rooms. We were also presented with the added challenge of constructing the building without disturbing the English Civil War fortification and mature trees that surrounded the area.


The Hands Building comprises of a new student residence with 78 en-suite bedrooms together with common room and staff office facilities. Eckersley O’Callaghan was appointed as Structural Engineers for the project continuing our long-term relationship with the University.

The student accommodation has been constructed from an arrangement of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) walls and floors, with stone cladding to the exterior facade and areas of structural glass. The prefabricated form of construction with CLT not only reduces construction time but vitally reduces the environmental impact as timber is a renewable resource and sequesters carbon during growth.

The two storey basement sits deep in a high water table on the site, and is constructed as a reinforced concrete box with a limited number of internal supports to create larger spaces required in the brief.  The base of the box will form a raft slab foundation to support the structures over.  Formed with concrete secant piled perimeter walls, waterproofing protection is provided through a dual system of waterproof concrete and a cavity drain.

The Hands Building

Mansfield Road




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