MBA have been commissioned to develop a master plan for Oriel College, Oxford.  The award follows a series of successful projects for the college, alongside work completed on conservation and management plans by sibling company Stow and Beale Conservation Architects.

The plan will build on the methodical assessment of the site and its history, and map the medium term needs of the College to its historic fabric, identifying opportunities for improved use, accessibility and sustainability.

MBA’s first new theatre for Cumnor House School in Sussex will open in August 2008.

This education architectural project sits in an area of outstanding natural beauty, and the theatre seats 365 children and includes foyer, backstage facilities and music rehearsal rooms.

Using the natural slope of the land to achieve the raked auditorium. Its form responds to the historic crinkle-crankle garden wall nearby and to an ancient Yew tree adjacent to the building. Green credentials include locally sourced bricks – dug up form the earth within a mile of the site, untreated larch boarding and high levels of insulation and thermal mass, as well as a bio-diverse green roofs across the whole building.

The school describe the new space as ‘fantastic’, as the low ceilinged foyer, set sensitively within the existing landscape, gives way to the large auditorium.

MBA are delighted to be main sponsors for the Wimbledon Bookfest 2008 – which will include a lecture by Leo Hollis, author of The Phoenix, a book about the reconstruction of London after the Great Fire, at the Antoinette Hotel SW19 1SD on 8 October 2008 at 7.30 pm. Other highlights of the festival include; Toby Young hot from Cannes with How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, novelist Maggie O’Farrell, TV gardener Joe Swift and James Fenton with the Florestan trio. Bookfest patron Penny Vincenzi will be returning to Cannizaro House Hotel for a Girls’ Night out with fellow authors, Jenny Colgan and Christina Odone and there’s a Bond themed Gala dinner at Wimbledon Park Golf Club with Ian Fleming’s niece Kate Grimmond attending as guest speaker.See Wimbledon bookfest website for more.


After a conservation assessment by MBA on behalf of Oriel College, Oxford, a proposal for new eco-housing scheme is submitted for planning to Oxford City Council.

The housing will be used by Fellows and graduate students of Oriel College, Oxford and is to be constructed on the site of a medieval leper colony in the Bartlemas Conservation Area which has been owned by the college since 1329.

MBA has been appointed to re-develop the offices of the dean and chief operating officer at the UCL School of Pharmacy, London.

The brief is to provide:

  • Appropriate office accommodation for the above and their assistants.
  • An appropriate functional arrangement to assist team working.
  • An appropriate visitor experience.
  • A quality of accommodation which reflects the school’s status as a cutting edge scientific institute.

The fit-out will be fast tracked to enable the staff to commence the autumn term in new surroundings.

Planning and listed building consent has been achieved for the conversion of two Grade II* Listed houses dating from the 1720s back into townhouses. The buildings, located on Great James Street in Mayfair, London, had been combined in the early C20 into an office.

Landscape Architect Aileen Shackell MLI has joined MBA as a consultant. Aileen is an expert in play, and has seven years experience of historic landscapes and urban regeneration. She collaborated with MBA in the Groundwork/Peabody/MBA scheme for Merton Park Station project, a proposal to integrate transportation, wildlife, workplace and residential uses around a transport hub.

Monday, 19 May 2008 / Projects

Willington School

Following on from a successful theatre design for the Willington School in the heart of Wimbledon, MBA have been asked to provide an imaginative scheme for a new playground.

Marcus Beale commented “We are delighted to be working with, landscape architect, Aileen Shackell on this project and get the benefit of her expertise to suggest a scheme that the children will find stimulating, exciting and even slightly dangerous, embodying best practice for architecting supreme play spaces from across the EU.”

This new theatre, with impeccable green credentials, is due for completion in July.

It will seat 365 children or 292 adults and is a key component of the master plan MBA provided for the school in 2006. It is intended to make this facility available to the local community.

The practice has formed a Sustainability Research Unit to demonstrate MBA’s practical application of its sustainable principles on past, current and future projects. This will focus on the economic, social and environmental strategies embedded in MBA’s designs.

The unit is the responsibility of James Donlon, an Associate of MBA. He is supported by Robin Bates who has extensive job-running experience of complex residential and conservation projects.

James is the project architect for the design of Oriel College Oxford’s new houses for fellows and graduates, located in the Bartlemas Conservation Area. This scheme embodies MBA’s key sustainability principles, incorporating:

  • Closed loop ground source heat pump
  • Exploitation of passive solar gain through orientation, shading and solar chimneys
  • Biomass fuel burner
  • Triple glazing to windows
  • Bio-diverse green roofs
  • Breathing walls of timber frame construction with sheep’s wool insulation