Pantin Library, Oriel College
The Pantin library is the undergraduate library of Oriel College Oxford. It occupies St. Mary’s Hall, a grade I listed collegiate hall constructed in the early 17th century later incorporated into Oriel College. The brief was to convert the space, formerly used as the Junior Common Room, into the library as a whole. MBA re-planned the interiors and remodelled the surrounding areas including the ‘snake’ passage which links second and third quads to make the ground floor of the library fully accessible.
A welcoming interior
A critical factor was to make the spaces welcoming and accommodating for undergraduates. For this reason, rather than using the standard Oxford collegiate materials of dark oak and bronze or brass fittings, the new furniture is light oak and light grey, to contrast with the historic interior. This gives a lightness and informality to the spaces.
MBA designed a new desk system which incorporates data and power trunking. These can be combined into various configurations, with our without privacy screens. Other bespoke joinery for this project includes a moveable reception desk designed in plywood over a lightweight core. All the furniture is touch kind and ergonomic. The oak screens were carefully restored and original panelling in the hall was repainted to a dark grey close to the original colour. Glass doors divide the passage from second quad and St Mary’s quad which improves security and climate control.
This is one of five built projects MBA have implemented for Oriel between 2003 and 2017, including the porters lodge, chapel, provosts lodgings and the Rhodes building. This long and productive relationship enabled MBA to understand and reflect the college’s institutional culture. All the Oriel projects, except the Rhodes which is grade II* listed, involve modern interventions into grade I listed interiors. Taken together they add an authentic new layer of history to the college, reflecting a friendly, open, human-centred approach to the college’s rich traditions and heritage.
- Oxford, UK
- Project Architect
- James Donlon