The Exeter College Cohen Quad was chosen by Jeremy Melvin of The Sunday Times as one of six buildings that will make an impact this year.
“What makes this project notable among the crop of new buildings in Oxford and Cambridge is how it transforms the traditional spatial configurations of Oxbridge colleges. It manages to look to the future, using new technologies, while still catering to the traditional needs for accommodation and secure storage for special collections.
The central conceptual idea and physical space is the Learning Commons, a large volume offering levels of differing size and degrees of intimacy. Studious scholars can hide themselves away and study intently; others might spot people and exchange ideas.
This is not Oxford’s most flamboyant new building — Zaha Hadid’s work in 2015 on St Antony’s College, and Herzog & de Meuron’s Blavatnik School of Government, debuted last year, outdo it on that score — and it had to fit a lot of accommodation into a tight planning envelope. But it is perhaps the most far-reaching in showing how congenial spaces and new technologies might support academic life, just as the quad, the library and the printed book did 500 years ago.”