Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies

  Photos © James Brittain


The Classics Faculty had been occupying three Grade 2 listed buildings on St. Giles for a number of years. Although in a prime central Oxford location, adjacent to the Ashmolean Museum and close to the Sackler Library, the useable parts of the buildings offered insufficient and poor quality space, and the lack of a proper entrance, absence of a lift or proper access arrangements, and lack of any specialized facilities, all prevented the Faculty functioning at its optimum level.

The key generating idea was the desire to increase interaction (formal and informal) between members of the Classics faculty, accommodating them all so that the academic life of its subject and the quality of research was strengthened, and so that the University continued to attract and retain the best people in the field.

The challenge was to provide good quality modern research and teaching facilities for the whole Faculty, working with the existing historic buildings, and fully exploiting the spatial potential of a very restricted central Oxford site, hemmed in between Blackfriars College, the Taylorian Institution and the Ashmolean Museum Cast Gallery. 

About the project

The new Centre provides high quality modern research and teaching facilities for the whole Faculty. The old subsidiary buildings were demolished to build new accommodation while the significant parts of the existing buildings were retained. A central atrium brings natural light and ventilation into the deep plan, organises the circulation and provides a communal heart to the building, joining old and new.

The project to rebuild the Ashmolean Museum was a determining factor as the only available site access for both projects was the narrow lane between them, and this was to be filled by the Ashmolean proposals. A significant driver for the project was therefore to maximise the development of the site within the available window of opportunity.


Delivered on time in January 2007 and within budget.

Project Team


  • Architect: van Heyningen and Haward
  • Services Engineer: Foreman Roberts
  • Structural Engineer: Price and Myers
  • Cost Consultant: E.C. Harris
  • Contractor: Mace Plus Ltd
  • Project Manager: PDCM Ltd
  • Project Completion date: January 2007 


Total project cost:  £8.6m


1,600 m2