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Building Consultation

A new Centre for Oxford

Presenting our initial plans to build a new Centre for the Humanities which is open to the public, ahead of submitting a planning application this year.

Creating a world-class Centre for the Humanities

Our proposal for the Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities, located in the centre of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter in Oxford, will be presented to Oxford City Council as a planning submission in autumn 2021. We are committed to making this 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.

We held an initial public consultation which ran from 18 November to 9 December 2020. A second public consultation ran from 17 June to 8 July 2021. At the latter consultation, we presented the proposed design of the building - by Hopkins Architects - for the first time. We are considering feedback from the consultation prior to submitting a planning application to Oxford City Council which will follow soon.

The second public consultation's exhibition boards can be viewed here.

The Centre will bring many benefits to the city of Oxford, including: 

  • Major new performances venues, including a 500-seat concert hall, a 250-seat theatre and a 100-seat Black Box lab for experimental performance. These will be open to local cultural organisations, with whom Oxford researchers will strengthen their partnerships.
  • 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.

Environmental sustainability will be a priority throughout the design and construction of the building, and the Centre 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:

  • An energy and carbon efficient building which uses “Passivhaus” principles. 
  • Solar power generation on the roof. 
  • 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. 
  • No fossil fuel consumption in the building itself. 
  • Very high levels of insulation to reduce the heat needed in the building. 
  • Cycle parking and encouragement for visitors to take public transport, with no new parking spaces other than for disabled users.

If you would like to contact us about this, please email 

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