Zaha’s Timber Investcorp Building - £11m Middle East Centre for St Anthony’s Oxford
Innovative Double Curved Timber Roof
Award winning Zaha Hadid Architects chose structural timber to slot their advanced design into the very restricted site. Respecting the existing period buildings and landscape, its stainless-steel facade softly reflects natural light to echo the building's context.
Royal Keynote for “Bold & Daring” Building
Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar was the keynote speaker for the unveiling of the new building. Sheikha Moza is chair of the Qatar Foundation, an education development and scientific research organisation, as well as the UNESCO Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education since 2003. Her Highness said: "I am pleased to be invited to deliver the keynote speech at the Oxford Middle East Centre as we mark the opening of this bold and daring building."
Contemporary Building for Future Evolution
Commenting on the new building, Zaha Hadid said:
“The project maintains the detached character of the college's current buildings, allowing them to be read as separate elements, while introducing a contemporary building that conveys the past, present and future evolution of the college, university and city.”
Timber More Economical
Timber was chosen for the structure not only because it cost less than a steel structure, but especially because the precise geometry of the roof was much easier to achieve by using timber. It allowed the detailing to be clear and simple while creating the precise curved shape of the roof deck.
Acoustics with Curved Flexibility
The architect also designed a series of internal partition wall panels, flexible enough to accommodate curves on plan while also providing unobtrusive sound-absorbency. The panels are of oak-veneered ply, perforated with acoustic holes and lined with acoustically-absorbing material.
The new building doubles the space available for the Middle East Centre’s expanding library and archive, providing almost 1,200 square metres of additional floor space and a new 118-seat lecture theatre. The Centre holds Oxford University’s primary collection on the modern Middle East, a world-class collection of private papers and historic photographs used by scholars and researchers with an interest in the region.
The Investcorp Building’s lecture theatre will allow the Middle East Centre’s to expand its popular programme of seminars, lectures and debates - much of which is open to both the University and the general public.
For more information on this innovative, economical and award winning project, see:
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You Too Can Produce Award Winning Timber Buildings
While the structural use of timber is increasingly recognised, along with its age old aesthetic desirability, early engagement of the fabric providers / manufacturers and their architectural technologist is highly desirable. Their specialist guidance on the structure and materials to be used, as well as construction sequencing, can save significantly on time, effort and costs. As demand for more homes grows, those that will find greatest respect and command highest value will be innovative, flexible and challenging. To achieve this many architects and builders are turning to timber engineering firms able to interpret and deliver properly ‘sustainable solutions’ to secure high quality, factory produced elements and deliver better value in their projects.