Wright & Wright receives expansion of Corpus Christi Oxford library

Plans for the overhaul of Oxford College’s specialty collections center and library include new art archive and study rooms, plus an additional 1,200m of shelving for manuscripts and early printed books.

Corpus Christi is located south of the city center and is one of the oldest and smallest colleges in Oxford. The library, founded in the 16th century, has a collection of 60,000 volumes, including original works by Galileo, Erasmus and the Venerable Bede.

The Wright & Wright expansion will help modernize the library, which no longer meets the needs of the university staff and students, by improving the accessibility and security of the specialty collection. The project will also create suitable conditions for the storage of the valuable archive.

A new, naturally lit reading room with a view of the garden quad will be spread over three floors and offer a range of working environments.

The project will also work with the existing staircase 6 from the 1950s by restoring and improving the existing building fabric. One of the proposals is a new ashlar facade for the bay window. Internally, a range of materials such as oak and brass are used to suit the rest of the college.

Clare Wright, founding partner at Wright & Wright Architects, said: ‘[Our] The use of materials reflects an understanding of their inherent properties that affect the structure, function and meaning of our buildings.

“We look at what materials can do, and we also have a culture of craftsmanship and manufacturing. How things are done affects the solution and the creation of signature details captures and reinforces the spirit of the place. ‘

The renovation will enable handicapped access to all parts of the library and a new arrival point will be created on the first floor. It is also designed to meet Passive House standards.

Berman Guedes Stretton (BGS) received approval for earlier plans for a special collections archive at Oxford College in 2015.

However, Wright & Wright reopened for the project in 2019. Work is scheduled to begin on site in 2021.

The program follows on from the completion of a practice extension to the library at St. John’s College, Oxford, which was audited by the AJ in 2019, and the recently completed Lambeth Palace Library and Archives, due to open in early 2021.

Suggested view of Corpus Christi, Oxford’s interior: reading room

Source: Wright & Wright

Project data

place Corpus Christi College, Oxford University
local community Oxford
Type of project Library, special collections
client Corpus Christi College, Oxford
architect Wright & Wright Architects
Structural engineer Alan Baxter & Associates
1000&E consultants Max Fordham
Project manager Synergy construction and real estate consultants
Passive house consultant Max Fordham
Fire and Building Regulations Advisor Beryl Menzies, Menzies partner
Cost advisor Ridge & Partners
Start on site 2021