A transformation of Pembroke College's physical site was officially launched by HRH The Duke of Kent KG this week, marking the formal unveiling of new quadrangles and buildings and the first over-street bridge in Oxford since the iconic Bridge of Sighs.
Pembroke, until now one of Oxford's physically smaller colleges, has constructed new buildings and two new quadrangles right on its existing location, representing an expansion of a sort very rarely possible for a college situated in central Oxford. Undergraduates will now be able to live in college premises for all years of study, most on the college's extended main site, while postgraduates also benefit from more rooms.
As well as student accommodation, the new buildings provide seminar and meeting rooms, a multi-purpose auditorium, a purpose-built art gallery, outdoor social spaces, and a café.
A footbridge over Brewer Street connects the new quads directly to the existing historic Chapel Quad. It is the only bridge in Oxford to span the remains of the ancient Oxford city wall, and the first over-street bridge for a century – since Hertford College's Venetian-style Bridge of Sighs, constructed in 1914.
The development has helped to re-draw the appearance of an undistinguished part of St Ebbe's in Oxford, providing a sympathetic facelift to an area of defunct industrial buildings, warehouses and vacant sites.
The Master of Pembroke, Giles Henderson, said: 'This major extension of our main site will benefit members of Pembroke for years to come, as well as enhancing this area of Oxford for local residents and visitors. The buildings represent a giant leap forward for the college.'
The development was designed by architects Berman Guedes Stretton. It has been supported by a fundraising campaign, 'Bridging Centuries', with donations coming in from well over 1,000 different people, mostly alumni, from over 40 countries.
During his visit The Duke of Kent crossed the new bridge with the Master of the college before meeting members of the team who worked on the construction. During a ceremony in the new Pichette Auditorium, he unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion before meeting many of the donors to the project, along with members of the college, during a reception and lunch. The University's Chancellor, Lord Patten, and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, were present, as well as the Lord Mayor of Oxford.
Giles Henderson hailed the opening of the new buildings as a landmark date for the college: “There is no doubt this development can be seen as producing an historic physical transformation. I think it should also be seen as a vivid illustration of the Pembroke community as a whole pulling together. Most of all, I believe this development should be seen as an outward and visible sign of Pembroke's increasing self-confidence and ambition.”
Reproduced with kind permission from the University of Oxford press office. Photo by Quintin Lake.