Arts & Civic

Pitt Rivers Museum Research Centre & Balfour Library

Oxford, Oxfordshire

The site for the building was an area of lean-to buildings and turn of the century corrugated iron huts, built against the walls of the Pitt Rivers Museum, and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. 

The site is in the curtilage of a Grade I Listed Building. The Research Centre contains a new staircase, and a lift, which the public can now use to circulate to the upper galleries in the Museum. There was also a small stone gabled addition (originally built onto the Oxford University Museum) but in use by the Pitt Rivers Museum, which was demolished to allow the new building to take a regular form.

The challenge was to build a modern building, amongst the existing Victorian museums. The mass of the building, a large volume with a steep roof, was taken from the forms of the adjoining buildings. The long vertical window was designed to make a “break" between the new buildings and the existing stone facade of the Oxford University Museum.

The building has a load bearing Hornton stone façade, with timber sliding windows.  At the top of the roof is a large rooflight, allowing ventilation and daylight to the large central workspaces. Two voids in the second floor allow daylight to penetrate to the first floor workspace.

Client Name
2,100 sqm
£5 million