Fitzhugh Auditorium Oxford

Declan Walker

Conceived as a jewel to be discovered, the Fitzhugh Auditorium acts as a striking yet functional destination along the architectural narrative of the Cohen Quad. The distinct form of the hall serves as a utilitarian event space able to accommodate concerts, plays, events, dinners and lectures of up to 110 delegates in a light filled and acoustically tempered environment.

The Auditorium is a sprung floor, column-free space formed by the same continuous curving roof form as the main structure, a single plane of metal. Cut, curved and folded over the building’s volumes, the roof forms a shimmering cloak that floats down from the north quad to cover the Auditorium, curving upward in a surprising and lyrically expressive manner to capture light from the south. A glulaminated timber beam and column structure was selected for both carbon sequestration and its unique structural qualities including the ability to be curved to tight radii to suit the structural profiles required. Being lightweight, erection was simplified; only basic temporary works and minimal foundations were required.

The Acoustic requirement of the Auditorium played a role in determining its solid expression. Acoustic glazing prevents amplified noise breakout or environmental noise ingress in compliance with current acoustic performance standards. The structure also features adjustable acoustics through foldable wall panels that distort the reverberation of sound waves. The Auditorium features visionary video conferencing equipment that permits mixed online and in-person conferences. The curved roof funnels light into the interior space, washing the wall that forms the Lecture Podium backdrop. Light from the roof lights and glazed elevations are controlled through motorized blackout blinds. Natural lighting allows audiences to feel dynamically connected to the changing seasons, weather and time of day.

The Auditorium features an east façade that opens up onto the paved courtyard. In fine weather this direct and open relationship between Hall and the North Quad offers opportunities for outdoor gatherings, ceremonies and events.

Exeter College Oxford
132 m²
Awards 7
  • RIBA – South Building of the Year
  • RIBA – South Regional Award
  • Civic Trust Award – Winner
  • Education Estates – University Project of the Year
  • Education Estates – Inspiring Learning Spaces
  • Architecture MasterPrize – Higher Education
  • Architects’ Newspaper AN Award
Max Fordham
Lighting Design
Arup Lighting
Audio Visual
Felix de Pass & Michael Montgomery
Paul Riddle, Hufton & Crow, ABA
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