Oxford University Estates | Rafael Vinoly Architects
Solving a mathematical puzzle.
The University of Oxford’s new Mathematical Institute (known as the Andrew Wiles Building) combines all of the university’s mathematics facilities into one a cutting-edge facility.
Surmounting the city’s statutes.
All buildings in central Oxford are limited in height and not allowed to exceed the Carfax Height Guideline, a rule defined by the height of a historically important landmark. This meant we took the plant into the basement and created a subterranean teaching area. The space needed to be mechanically ventilated so we developed an innovative means of bringing fresh air in and discharging extract air. Working collaboratively with the architect and design team, we used architectural elements and street furniture to conceal the mechanical ventilation.
In addition, Oxford City Council has a tough carbon-reduction goal, and the building needed to be future-proofed against climate change, as well as providing occupant control over the internal environment. We ensured the façade would maximise daylight, while simultaneously controlling the amount of solar heat gain, and designed a user-controlled motor-driven external shading device.
All above-ground space incorporates a passive design solution, including natural ventilation and exposed concrete soffits. As the building required a piled foundation solution, closed-loop pipework was installed in the bore holes – enabling the harvesting of free energy from the ground. This was connected to heat pumps to generate hot or chilled water as required. A key innovation was to design the system so that future nearby buildings could share energy between them – more than exceeding the requirements of the client and Oxford City Council.