Extending below Oxford's oldest college to create space for new kitchens and improved facilities.
This was a technically difficult project to develop the kitchens and first floor dining halls at Queen's College, Oxford. It involved significantly extending and altering an ancient basement below the historic west wing back quad.
The active building is Grade I listed and sits on limestone foundations. Excavating underneath the structure without unsettling the building required a multitude of provisional works to support the building, including the entire four-storey elevation. Working below the level of the existing foundations required the team to underpin all of the existing walls as excavations proceeded.
Overcoming the challenge
Access for this city centre site was through a 4ft-wide doorway onto a narrow lane. Cautious preparation and management with college and city authorities was required for deliveries and loading.
Excavating underneath the existing building required great care. It was only possible to use a mini excavator and all spoil had to be loaded into powered wheelbarrows and then out to a skip in the narrow lane.
All work had to take place while the college was functioning. Combined with a watching brief from the archaeologists and English Heritage, the team needed a vigilant approach to health and safety and strong communication with all interested parties.