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Florey Design Competition Oxford

Shortlist for Architecture Contest in Oxfordshire, England, UK – Building by Big Jim

Florey Building Designs – 22 Feb 2016 update

19 Nov 2013

Florey Design Competition Shortlist

Shortlist Architects for Renewal of Oxford Modernist Landmark

The Queen’s College today announced the six teams invited to submit proposals to update the Grade II listed Florey building in order to provide modern facilities and achieve exemplary energy design.

The project is the subject of a two-stage design competition launched in August 2013.

In alphabetical order, the team leaders are:

Avanti Architects

Feilden Clegg Bradley

HawkinsBrown Architects

John McAslan + Partners

Levitt Bernstein Associates

Nicholas Hare Architects

View showing the raised glass facade wrapping the social courtyard:
The Florey building Oxford - Florey Design Competition
photograph © James Brittain

The Florey, now forty years old, is regarded as one of the great post-war modernist buildings in Britain. It is among the few surviving works of the architect James Stirling, acclaimed as the most brilliant designer of his generation.

Competition organiser, Malcolm Reading said:
‘We are delighted by the quality of response to our call for expressions of interest. These teams are highly seasoned, astute practices who are in their prime.

‘This is an extremely complex project which will require a deal of patience and skill but the renewal of the Florey will be a tremendous asset to Queen’s, and indeed Oxford.’

An open day for competitors will be held in November and second-stage submissions are due towards the end of January 2014.

The winner is expected to be announced in February 2014 following the Jury interviews.

The Florey was recently identified by The Guardian as one of the top ten student residences in the world.

5 Sep 2013

Florey Design Competition Oxford 2013

Oxford Modernist landmark to be restored and updated

The Queen’s College, Oxford is delighted to announce the launch of the Florey Design Competition. The College seeks a dedicated team to restore and add new facilities to James Stirling’s modernist masterpiece, The Florey building, which is Grade II listed.

Admired worldwide for its boldness and heroism, the Florey has been beset with infamous technical and practical failings since it opened forty years ago. Despite this, the building has remained largely popular with undergraduates for its sociable spaces and views of the river setting. Queen’s College Home Bursar, Dr Linda Irving-Bell says the College is determined to fulfil Stirling’s original vision:

Queen’s has the benefit of the long view now. The Florey is emblematic. With hindsight, the building was way ahead of the original, available technology but with recent innovations, many of the problems can be addressed. Queen’s wants to conserve and upgrade the building and set an example in energy design and sustainability.’

View of the Florey Building from St Clements car park:
The Florey building Oxford
photograph © James Brittain

Malcolm Reading, competition organiser, commented:
The building was the product of two titans of modern culture, Lord Florey, who wanted a distinguished building to attract the best minds and James Stirling, who was regarded as the most brilliant architect of his generation.

‘This is a fascinating project because it needs to balance a respect for Stirling’s original vision with a high-quality upgrade of fabric and services.’

Entrance to the raised courtyard from the cloister:
Florey Design Competition Oxford - The Florey building
photograph © James Brittain

Teams must also address the wider site for the inclusion of new accommodation, social and modern facilities, as well as improving and refreshing the overall river setting. For further details please see


Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) an independent, expert organiser of design competitions is managing this two stage design competition on behalf of the College.

The deadline for Expressions of Interest is 9th October 2013. The shortlist will be announced in the autumn and the winning team is expected to be announced in February 2014.

Florey Design Competition image / information from Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC)

Florey Competition Oxford Background

The Queen’s College, one of the oldest constituent Colleges of the University of Oxford, was founded in 1341 by Robert de Eglesfield, a chaplain in the household of Queen Philippa of Hainault, who named it in her honour. Parts of the current College date back to the 17th century and replace the earlier medieval College buildings that had fallen into disrepair in the 16th century.

The Baroque Front Quadrangle has been called ‘the grandest piece of classical architecture in Oxford’ and was heavily influenced by Nicholas Hawksmoor. Since the late nineteenth century Queen’s has developed a strong academic reputation and recently endowed a scholarship in memory of the Iranian student, Neda Agha-Soltan. Today, although candidates from all possible backgrounds are welcomed and northerners no longer have preference, the College remains conscious of its history and traditions and values its ancient links with Cumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire.

The Florey Building (1971) was designed by James Stirling, one of the most inventive and often controversial, British architects of the post-war period. The building, which provides accommodation for undergraduates and postgraduates, was commissioned by Lord Howard Florey, the Queen’s College Provost and a Nobel Prize winner, who sought ‘the best building by the best architect to attract the best students and also research funding’.

Architectural historians often group the Florey with Stirling’s other two university buildings of this phase of his career: The Engineering Department at Leicester University (1959) and Cambridge University’s History Faculty and Library Building (1964). However, the Florey remains distinctive in its response to context: the river setting, endlessly captured and replayed in its glittering, faceted courtyard façade.

The American critic, Amanda Reeser Lawrence in her book James Stirling Revisionary Modernist has described the Florey’s design as, ‘…perhaps the purest moment of release – Stirling’s “wildest” moment, in which he strays further from anything else in either his own work or the work of others.’ The annual Stirling Prize for Architecture commemorates James Stirling’s original talent and is now Britain’s leading architectural prize. English Heritage listed the Florey Building Grade II in 2009.

James Stirling Architect

Address: The Florey Building student accommodation, 23 St Clement’s Street, Oxford, OX4 1AB, England, UK

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