The Wolfson Building, John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford

A Centre for Research reaching out from the earth

Forming part of the John Radcliffe Hospital complex in Oxford, and bounding an adjacent conservation area, the Wolfson Building extends from a constrained and sloped site, affording expansive views of the city and surroundings.

The building offers the UK’s first dedicated centre for prevention of stroke and dementia research.

Expressed as two linear rectangular forms staggered to articulate the H-shape floor plan, the primary spaces are organised on either side of a circulation and service spine that incorporates the stairs, lift, shared facilities, amenities and meeting rooms.

Horizontal circulation is terminated at both ends with glazed portals to capture views and offer engagement with its urban context. This layout is symbolic of the collaborative relationship between the two departments that are housed within.

Befitting its research and the importance of engagement with the natural environment in the promotion of health, the forms are clad in familiar and natural materials comprising modular, repetitive elements of earthy terracotta that reference the context and character of the site and its history as a quarry. Timber frames provide a complement to highlight and identify entrances.

The facade is arranged in various combinations to create a unique architectural pattern broken up by full height slot window apertures that introduce daylight and view deep into the building. This sequence of windows expresses the variety of internal spaces, creating a flexible module for both cellular office and open plan workstations providing space for researchers to meet, share ideas and train supporting the various needs of the contemporary academic workplace.

An innovative solution for natural ventilation with acoustic buffering is incorporated within the reveals of the facade, ensuring the building is full of fresh air, and controlled natural light reinforcing the University’s commitment to sustainability, health and well-being.

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Wolfson Building

The verticality of the window arrangement enables an innovative solution for natural ventilation via vertical louvres that are incorporated within the reveals in the facade. These louvres also provide an effective night purge system which is integral to the sustainability strategy for naturally heating and cooling the building, whilst addressing complex acoustic criteria. Furthermore, the deep window reveals afforded by the louvres integrate solar shading into the facade system.