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Building plans

A new Centre for Oxford

Presenting our initial plans to build a new Centre for the Humanities which is open to the public.

Creating a world-class Centre for the Humanities

We are committed to making the Centre a building that is open to and benefits the wider public in Oxford and beyond, and environmental sustainability is a key consideration of its design.

Oxford City Council awarded planning permission for the building at a meeting on 8 March 2022. Councillors voted unanimously to approve our designs. Prior to this, we held two public consultations and extensive meetings and workshops with local residents, stakeholder groups, staff and students.

The next steps for construction are:

  • April to September 2022: Enabling works will begin on the site.
  • May-June 2022: A new website will be launched with information on progress on the site, and the first newsletter will be sent out.
  • October 2022: Construction will begin on the site in earnest. Hoardings will be erected around perimeter offering viewpoints for people to see what is happening.
  • 2025: The building will open.

A distinctive feature of our plans are the public benefits it will bring. These include:

  • Major new performances venues, including a 500-seat concert hall, a 250-seat theatre and a 100-seat Black Box space for experimental performance. Local cultural organisations will be invited to perform in these spaces through existing and new partnerships with Oxford researchers.
  • Exhibitions, lectures and performances which bring Oxford’s research to wide audiences.
  • A schools and public engagement centre to bring schoolchildren in Oxfordshire into contact with Humanities research and researchers.
  • New access routes and landscaping which opens up and connects the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter and the surrounding area.
  • A café and other meeting spaces which are open to the public and accessible without having to pass through a security barrier.

The Centre will be a highly energy efficient building designed according to Passivhaus principles, and will contribute to Oxford University’s aim to halve its carbon emissions by 2030 and towards achieving its ambition of net zero carbon emissions and net biodiversity gain by 2035. Features will include:

  • Very high levels of insulation to reduce the heat needed in the building.
  • More biodiversity on the site than existed before, with planting that appeals to wildlife and options for bird boxes.
  • New planting, landscaping and green spaces.
  • Cycle parking and encouragement for visitors to take public transport, with no new parking spaces other than for disabled users.
  • Solar power generation on the roof.
  • This will be an all-electric building, with heat pumps rather than boilers.

You can contact us, or sign up to our newsletter with updates on the building's progress, by emailing 

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