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Oaklands

Oaklands College is a Grade II listed post-war former educational campus in the centre of St. Albans. After the college moved to new premises the site was bought by Fairview New Homes for redevelopment into housing.
JPA masterplanned the site with PRP Architects to create 316 new apartments, including 40 within a central group of seven retained and listed former college buildings.
The converted and refurbished college buildings were restored to their former glory to provide wonderful apartments.

The masterplan for the wider site builds on the design principles of the listed buildings to further the campus philosophy of buildings set in landscape. For a campus layout set in parkland to be a success the majority of parking was tucked away in naturally ventilated basement areas that are conveniently located under or adjacent to the new apartments. 

The language of the new buildings was founded on the idea of complementing the existing rather than competing with it – echoing rather than mimicking – and this is achieved by careful translation of the ideas and forms that are employed on the listed campus buildings.

The idea of a ‘clad’ building was adopted, along with the use of a series of modular elements. The glass and grey facades of the listed buildings provide a calm, and elegant backdrop to the nature that surrounds them and this is counter-pointed by the use of cedar boarded panels and areas of a whitish brick.  We therefore adopted the use of natural materials that can complement this palette, using grey terracotta panels, pre-weathered grey zinc and aluminium glazing and this is reinforced by the use of cedar and pale brick.

The flat roofs of Oaklands are re-interpreted as a floating plane, by the introduction of an attic storey on each block. The idea of an elegant frame at the heart of the Oaklands buildings is interpreted in a free standing-metal screen – used for solar shading and balconies – on key south facing facades to both provide an elegant expression of structure, together with a materiality that will weather gracefully to make a very special place to live.

Fifteen new apartment blocks were threaded between over two hundred mature trees.  

Client Fairview New Homes Ltd (succeeded by Nicholas King Homes PLC)
Status Completed (2011)
Contract value £22.9m
GIA m2 17,297 m2
Structural engineer Barton Engineers
M&E Consultant Hoare Lea
Contractor NK Homes
Photography © Andy Matthews

St Albans Civic Trust Award 2018

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