In a historic city like Oxford, opportunities for new housing are few and far between. We were excited to have the chance to convert a 1960s office building in the city centre into a suite of compact flats, adding a rooftop extension: the challenge lay in making the best use of limited space.
Oxford’s unique history poses another challenge. The city is famous for its “dreaming spires” – so it was important to make sure that our designs didn’t detract from that stunning medieval skyline, while giving residents access to this unique view.
By cannily exploiting every inch of usable space, we managed to create 15 apartments in the building. More importantly, though, the residents live in places that feel spacious: neutral colour schemes, built-in storage and loose furniture all give a sense of openness. We explored a wide range of layout options, and chose to position the bedrooms at the back of the apartments to give the living spaces natural light and ventilation – an important factor in wellbeing.
The rooftop extension includes three-bedroom penthouse apartments, each with a private terrace. Taking our inspiration from origami, we used a folded, angular roof to help the penthouses blend into the skyline. The Oxford Preservation Trust were highly impressed by this approach, awarding us a letter of commendation for creating much-needed housing in the city centre with a minimal impact on Oxford’s rich heritage.
“It’s rare to find such a well-considered development in such a central position, and we have been delighted with how the compact apartments have been received.”– GREG BARNES, BRECKON & BRECKON