Jesus College – Cheng Yu Tung Building

  • area / size 87,080 sqft
  • Completed 2022
  • MICA designed the Cheng Yu Tung Building for Jesus College in Oxford, England.

    MICA have recently completed a prominent and unique mixed-use building in central Oxford, the Cheng Yu Tung building for Jesus College, which brings together teaching, retail, research, NHS healthcare and student living in a third quad for the Elizabethan college.

    From the outset, the aim was to design an environmentally sustainable building that would enhance the public realm in an area of the city centre so rich in history but which had suffered a significant drop in footfall in recent years. The College also wanted to become more outward-facing; reducing the physical barriers between the local community and visitors, and people who live and work in its buildings; and providing a new venue for public events, exhibitions, performances and conferences in the city. Working in conjunction with the Colleges Strategic Plan 2017 2021, MICA developed designs to meet the Colleges ambitious targets for expanding and enhancing the core academic priorities and purpose of the College.

    Turning a back, to a front
    The scheme is a major addition and new active building in Oxfords evolving city centre providing high-quality new retail space, combined with new teaching and social facilities for the student community, turning a previous unsightly back, into a positive front. Retail is topped by student residential and communal college space consciously made visible from the public realm to reinforce the building and its diverse uses as an important part of the city. The building and its extensive new landscape significantly increase step-free access to the historic multi-level College and transforms the legibility and transparency, of a traditionally closed environment. A new quad, richly planted roof terraces and a new garden mesh together the new facilities, whilst externally, the scheme reworks Market Street, an important thoroughfare, into a high-quality environment.

    The design of the building takes cues from the existing College architecture and context to provide a striking contemporary design in a sensitive urban context with a dynamic and responsive facade. Clipsham Stone, the original College stone has been used, and carefully detailed to reference the existing College and provide varied facades responding to different faces and environments.

    Working hard
    The scheme is central Oxford’s first new all-electric building complemented by on-site energy generation with a (concealed) Photovoltaic array and a Ground Source Heat Pump generating 40% of the building needs, both successfully navigating Oxfords onerous skyline and archaeological rules. Harnessing embodied carbon the scheme reuses an existing concrete structure, with the majority of new structures being carbon-negative cross-laminated timber. The extent and position of glazing and fenestration have been carefully considered to maximise natural lighting and natural ventilation while minimising heat gain.

    A rich mix
    The building brings together teaching, dining, NHS healthcare, retail, socialising, faith spaces, cafe, exhibition, roof terraces, common rooms, well-being, study and residential, doubling the accommodation on the site and bringing together distinct functions in a complementary way.

    Integrating landscape within the urban setting
    The College arrangement centres around a new quad which has been developed on the second floor and linked via steps to the Fellows Garden. The space is lined with planting in both climbing plants and planters combining seating. High-quality stone flooring and gravel provide flexible year-round use whilst also defining routes to residential staircases. We worked with landscape designers to define the planting design and deliver an outstanding, robust and changing landscape.

    Striking new space
    At its centre a tiered forum provides a gathering space for the College as well as a new facility for interdisciplinary digital research and immersive display and amp visualisation. Above a new generous entrance a gatehouse is topped by a new tower room gallery with striking views, at close quarters, across the Dreaming Spires of Oxford and a newly landscaped Market Street.

    Design: MICA
    Contractor: BAM Construction
    Photography: Jim Stephenson, Hufton+Crow