Castle Hill House

University of Oxford
St Peter’s College
On Site

Eco-friendly development to expand student housing options for undergraduates

The prestigious Castle Hill House site is set adjacent to the historic setting of the nearby Oxford Castle. The site boundary itself is formed by Bulwarks Lane to the East (which follows the line of the ditch that surrounded the Castle Mound), the Law Centre to the South, New Road to the West, and Canal House (the Master’s residence) to the North.

St Peter’s College has made strategic property acquisitions to secure the future expansion and growth of the College including the recent freehold acquisition of Castle Hill House on New Road, which was formally the Conservative Club. The College is now looking to redevelop the Castle Hill House site to provide student accommodation, primarily for its second-year students.

The primary driver for the project is to create a connection between the new development and the existing campus. It achieves this through a new physical ground-level connection across Bulwarks Lane, as well as continuing the quality and character of the current landscaping with the creation of a new quad at the heart of the proposed development.

Design Approach

Design Team

main contractor:

structural engineer:
Eckersley O’Callaghan 

quantity surveyor:

lighting consultant:
QODA Lighting

landscape consultant:
Guillaume Baltz Landscape & Garden Design

planning consultant:

This new quad breaks the massing of the proposed development, creating two separate buildings housing the 54 study bedrooms. The two residential buildings are connected on the ground floor by a podium building which houses the support functions (including Fellow’s Rooms, an estates workshop and office, as well as cycle facilities and plant spaces) that has a direct connection to Canal House garden and New Road.

Materially the buildings reference the surrounding context: high-quality hand-made bricks in grey and sand colour reflecting the tone and colour of the rusticated base and ashlar stone facings of Canal House, which is accented with patterned cast stone features to building entrances. Terracotta ceramic cladding to the upper storey echoes the tiled roofs of the surrounding buildings.

The existing garden and parking court to the front of Canal House is to be re-landscaped to provide a more open and attractive space, adaptive to future parking demands and to facilitate different ways of using the garden. This will allow the parking area to connect to the garden for events.

The Site & Sustainability

St Peters College Visual Expanded

The Castle Hill House Development is targeting the environmental standard ‘Passivhaus Institute Low Energy Building’. Passivhaus buildings are characterised by especially high levels of indoor comfort with minimum energy consumption. This is achieved by significantly improving the building fabric in terms of thermal insulation and airtightness, thereby minimising energy loss to a level that minimum space heating is required.

The historical context has been a significant design challenge and extensive consultation was undertaken with Oxford City Council and Historic England. While contemporary in approach the design makes references to the existing context in its form, massing, proportions and material tones. This close dialogue has been an integral part of the design, which received planning permission in January 2021.