Queen Elizabeth House


The University's Department of International Development was based at Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, but was also housed in a number of disparate locations across Oxford. The department's vision was to bring all of its teaching and research facilities together, providing a single environmentally-friendly location for its staff, postgraduates and multinational community of scholars involved in collaborative research and teaching.

The heart of the QEH building is a listed nineteenth-century building which had been refurbished to provide research, office and seminar space. However, the attached 1930s lecture theatre lacked flexibility and was under-used. Its 1960s workshop extension provided very poor quality research accommodation, which was not worthwhile refurbishing. The planned relocation of the Geography Library, housed in a second 1960s extension, provided the opportunity to reorganise the research groups, demolish the lecture theatre block and construct a new extension.

The resultant Queen Elizabeth House now provides the study centre for 65 academic and research staff, together with nearly 200 graduate students, many of whom are undertaking research degrees. The new extension was occupied in April 2009 and formally opened by the Vice Chancellor the following month.


The new building extension provides approx 900m2 of research accommodation on three storeys, together with a large dividable seminar room and study space at Lower Garden level. The building incorporates many environmentally friendly features, including a natural cooling system with motorised louvres and four chimneys using a stack effect to extract stale air and cool the new building overnight, instead of mechanical ventilation or air conditioning. Roof-top solar collectors provide hot water to the entire building, and the new building has a low-energy heating system.

The extension successfully integrates with the original listed building through the stair and lift core, providing level access to each floor. The refurbished Geography Library extension provides research and study accommodation, which is fully accessible when the main building is closed.

The extension has an in-situ concrete frame and floors with exposed ceilings providing a high thermal mass for cooling. The roof and chimneys are clad in bronze shingles with coloured render walls. The design is the result of detailed discussions with the department, Planning and Conservation Officers and Balliol College to fit within a compact but sensitive site.

Key stakeholders

The project was funded by the Department of International Development, University Capital and HEFCE.

Project Team

Architect: Hawkins\Brown
Services Engineer: Hoare Lea
Structural Engineer: Gifford
Cost Consultant: confluencepcm
Contractor: Longcross Construction
Project Manager: confluencepcm & Estates Services
Project completion date: April 2009 


Total Project Costs: £3.9m (includes fees, VAT etc)
Construction Costs: £2.9m