Oxford Preservation Trust Award - St Peters College Law Centre Refurbishment

We are delighted to be Oxford Preservation Trust Awards 2020 Small Projects Certificate Winner for the Law Centre refurbishment at St Peter’s College, Oxford. The building dates from 1863 and was originally home to Oxford’s probate office. Because of the historical value of this building, great care was taken with the refurbishment.

This care was reflected in the comments by OPT’s adjudicators; the building’s original features had been “beautifully sustained… preserved and enhanced”.

We, at GBS Architects, alongside St Peter’s College’ Building Manager, Michael Tohill and contractors, Wooldridge and Simpson.

The Law Centre, which contains a specialist library, archives and various teaching and seminar rooms, underwent a substantial refurbishment, as overseen by our Chartered Construction Manager, Lisa Smith.

The building was suffering from damage caused by structural movement and water ingress. The works were designed to provide a modern and accessible teaching and study environment, whilst restoring and retaining original features of the building and protecting the assets from further structural damage and damp ingress.

To resolve the damp and water ingress issues; tanking of the basement with a sump and pump installation below the brick floor was introduced. A full internal refurbishment and redecoration programme included a new kitchen and finishes that used traditional lath and plaster construction methods.

The archive store was also fully upgraded to become a hermitically sealed, temperature and humidity-controlled environment.

Externally, there were failed areas of masonry, so the render and pointing were restored. We restored the original iron railings, cast iron rainwater goods and timber sash windows and renewed the failed Crittal windows.

Another aim of the refurbishment was to make the ground floor fully accessible, and this was achieved by creating a level access route from the footpath with an automatic gate and door and an accessible WC.

The Law Centre is located in Central Oxford, sitting amongst many other listed properties and significant landmarks that are visited daily by locals and tourists alike. Although the Law Centre is not accessible to members of the public as it is utilised for education by St Peter’s College, the restored exterior contributes towards preserving the aesthetic of a historical city.

As experts in balancing historical preservation and sustainable constructing methods, whilst refurbishing the basement of the Law Centre, we sourced and used reclaimed bricks to match the existing floor, which helped to restore some of the original features of the building.

The project team were as follows:

Lisa Smith, Building Surveyor, GBS Architects

Principal Contractor: Wooldridge and Simpson

Damp Proofing Specialist: Timberwise

Buildings and Maintenance Manager: Michael Tohill, St Peter’s College