Forming part of the John Radcliffe Hospital complex in Oxford and bounding the Old Headington Conservation Area, The Wolfson Building extends from a constrained and sloped site, offering expansive views of the city and surroundings.
Supported by funding from the Wolfson Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, the building offers the UK’s first dedicated centre for stroke and dementia research.
Purpose-built facilities encompass the Wolfson Centre for the Prevention of Stroke and Dementia (CPSD) as well as additional research space for the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging (WIN). Both of these organisations are units of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences (NDCN), part of the University of Oxford’s Medical Sciences Division (MSD).
The building is expressed as two linear rectangular forms staggered to articulate the H-shape floor plan. The primary spaces are organised on either side of a circulation and service spine that incorporates the stairs, lift and shared facilities such as amenities and meeting rooms. Horizontal circulation is terminated on both ends with windows to provide visual relief and engagement with its urban context. This layout is symbolic of the collaborative relationship between the two departments. These forms are clad in a terracotta rain-screen comprising modular, repetitive elements in natural, earthy tones that reference the context and character of the site and the site’s long history as a quarry providing construction materials for the area. The terracotta is complimented with timber elements that provide highlights and identify entrances.
The modular elements have been arranged in various combinations to create a unique architectural pattern broken up by full height slot window apertures that introduce daylight deep into the building. The variation in the positioning of these windows articulates the façade and is arranged to relate to the position of the sun and local context. Windows also express the variety of internal spaces where the floor plate is setout to create a flexible module for both cellular office and open plan workstations that support the different styles of this contemporary academic workplace. The simple fixed glazing ensures security whilst maximising daylight into the building, an important consideration for the comfort of the occupants. The verticality of the window arrangement enables an innovative solution for natural ventilation via vertical louvres that are incorporated within the reveals in the facade. These louvres also provide an effective night purge system which is integral to the sustainability strategy for naturally heating and cooling the building, whilst addressing complex acoustic criteria. Furthermore, the deep window reveals afforded by the louvres integrate solar shading into the facade system.