St Catherine’s College in Oxford, designed by world-renowned Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, is providing an opportunity for those passionate about architecture and design to stay in an architectural masterpiece. Visitors can experience Jacobsen’s architecture and life at an Oxford college from the inside.
Jacobsen was given the task of designing the new college in 1957. Today, the result remains an understated landmark in the history of architecture. The buildings follow a strict module of squares and repetitions that follow the tradition of British universities. One of the buildings is clad all the way down, another is open with a sun-breaker, and a third is closed with brick. The design draws inspiration from renowned German-American architect Mies van der Rohe, but it has a Scandinavian sensibility.
The Banquet Hall at St Catherine’s College evokes iconic Oxford halls, with three long student tables leading to a diagonal table for professors and staff members. The content and proportions are the same as those in the older Oxford colleges, but the furniture is light, bright and modern. Students sit on light Series 7 chairs, while the staff sit on specially developed Oxford chairs, also designed by Jacobsen.
The Oxford chairs, which are produced by the Danish furniture brand Fritz Hansen, feature the same high backs as those at the other colleges, but they are ergonomically shaped. They can be rotated to facilitate conversations around tables, and the high backs offer privacy. The result is a banquet hall in which students and staff can talk, eat and study in a completely modernist universe.
In the library, Jacobsen introduced a more open atmosphere that also serves as an informal meeting place for students. Jacobsen’s Swan chairs are arranged at specific distances around a table, allowing students to share a table with strangers and remain undisturbed but enabling them to talk with their students and colleagues passing by.
Visitors can immerse themselves in world-class design from the moment they arrive. Rooms are now available for Easter 2016, and rooms for August will be made available in late May.