New Study Centre at Oxford University


Zaha Hadid has completed a new facility for the University of Oxford – a centre for studying Middle Eastern culture, conceived by the architect as a reflective tunnel suspended in space. The Investcorp Building expands the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College – one of the seven graduate colleges that comprise the UK’s oldest university, providing a new lecture theatre, library and archive.

The building is designed not only to look contemporary, but, to also match the scale and massing of existing buildings on the historic campus, from the Victorian-era convent and library, to the 1970s Brutalist-style Hilda Besse building. This resulted in a smooth curving form that gradually changes in height, and also turns to avoid the trunk and roots of a century-old Sequoia tree. The project maintains the detached character of the college’s current buildings, allowing them to be read as separate elements, while introducing a contemporary building that conveys the past, present and future evolution of the college, university and city.

It’s design weaves through the restricted site at St Antony’s College to connect and incorporate the existing protected buildings and trees, while its stainless-steel facade softly reflects natural light to echo the building’s context. The Middle East Centre was established in 1957 as the university’s primary faculty for the study of humanities and social sciences in the modern Arab world. The new structure bridges the gap between 68 and 66 Woodstock Road, providing three above-ground storeys and an extra level in the basement. Overall, it offers 1,127 square metres of additional floor space for the centre. Mirrored stainless steel clads the majority of the building, allowing it to reflect its surroundings. There are also large expanses of glazing – some sections function as windows, while others have painted backs.

The 117-seat lecture theatre is housed in the basement, along with separate archives for photography and paper documents. Above this, the more public ground floor accommodates a multi-purpose gallery space that can be used for informal meetings and study. Glazing surrounds most of this storey. The first and second floors are contained behind the stainless-steel facade, housing the majority of the storage, reading rooms and offices that comprise the library. This includes a total of 26 desks and 2,200 square metres of linear book storage. Oak-veneer boards are combined with perforated acoustic panels to line the walls in several rooms. There are also 25 skylights across the roof that bring natural daylight into the facility. The plaza at the building’s entrance is paved with hexagonal granite tiles, while a new lawn doubles as a green roof above the auditorium.



A black box made from panels of moulded steel creates a rippling enclosure for the upper storeys of this Givenchy flagship store in Korea by Italian architects Piuarch. Milanese studio Piuarch collaborated with Givenchy art director Riccardo Tisci on the design for the new store, which stands on a corner plot in the heart of the Gangnam-Gu shopping district of Seoul, South Korea.

The textured facade is made up from undulating panels of steel with a highly polished surface that reflects the light and surrounding street. Each mirror-like panel was moulded into a shape featuring peaks and troughs and aligned to form the bumpy surface that creates a shifting hound stooth-like pattern when light reflects off the surface. Small perforations in the material allow light to penetrate into the upper floors.

According to the architects, the facade references the textures and patterns used in the work of Italian artists Enrico Castellani and Lucio Fontana in the 1960s, and the optical patterns used in the brand’s latest collections.

The metal cladding peels away along one corner of the building to reveal a tapered T-shaped slice of the golden brass wall beneath. Designed as a sort of enclosure – a second embossed skin is an expression of an urban identity, and the facade is meant to evoke the distinctive tailoring ‘T cut’ that characterizes the style of the French brand. The metal hood stops short of the grey basalt pavement, revealing the ground level of the shop behind a layer of glass.

The architects describe the design as a hyper-minimalist interior that reflects the themes and the allure of the brand. Black marble treads cantilever from a contrasting pale marble wall to create a staircase, which leads to the upper floors through a glazed well.

Alex Guesthouse Belgium

Amid the Trees of a private garden in uitbergen Belgium, sits the introspective ‘Alex guesthouse’ by atelier vens vanbelle. Designed for a client in the film industry, the guesthouse was commissioned to provide their international guests with an unforgettable stay in a cabin-like space.

Built into a slightly raised hill, the guesthouse comprises a ground floor level, basement, and watchtower. The main entrance to the building is located on the raised ground floor, where guests are met by a timber-lined living and bedroom space. It is punctured by two large circular windows; these rooms offer a cozy atmosphere from which to enjoy views of the client’s beautiful garden and the neighboring castle.

a second and more dramatic entrance has also been integrated into the scheme by atelier vens vanbelle to create an ‘almost cinematic experience. ‘from the main house, guests can enter through the living room towards the garden shed. from here they enter the bicycle parking, where there is a staircase to a dark underground corridor (the basement). at the end of this disorientating corridor is a spiral staircase that connects to the outside space. the outdoor elements are therefore drawn into the underground level, adding a little drama to the experience.

Within the basement level a bar and cinema provides the perfect place to entertain guests, while climbing the spiral staircase all the way to the top leads to a watchtower with a view of the schelde river valley. the guesthouse was designed as one large piece of furniture and constructed from different layers of LVL wood, giving it a sculptural appearance. the structure was prefabricated in a studio and assembled on site. cladding the timber construction is profiled corten steel, which helps embed the new intervention into its surroundings, almost as if it has been there for years.