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  • Writer's pictureJames Scott

Stories appoints Feilden Fowles architects as lead designers on Mansfield College

Feilden Fowles appointed on estate development, Mansfield College, University of Oxford 


Feilden Fowles has been appointed as lead designer on a holistic transformation of University of Oxford’s Mansfield College, working alongside development partner Stories to address the estate and the needs of students and teaching staff. The wide-ranging project involves the development of a plan for new facilities and the significant enhancement and refurbishment of heritage buildings, while working towards the College’s ambitious sustainability targets. The architects won a limited design competition run by Stories working with architectural advisor Municipal. Other shortlisted practices included Allies and Morrison, Haworth Tompkins, Mae and Mikhail Riches.


Mansfield College, founded in Birmingham, opened in Oxford in 1886, making it one of Oxford’s newer colleges. Its original purpose was to provide further education and theological training for nonconformist ministers, and it provided a focal point for dissenters who had long been excluded from the religious life of the University, while also welcoming those from other denominations. That legacy continues today, with extensive outreach and a diverse enrolment, with the majority of students arriving from state schools. The Bonavero Institute of Human Rights is based in Mansfield’s newest addition, the Hands Building, aligning with the College’s founding principles of freedom of conscience and educational access.


Mansfield College is a unique example of collegiate architecture for its period: the College was conceived as a whole ensemble as opposed to growing organically over time, as many older colleges have, with incremental expansion and development in phases from the late 1880s to 2017. Victorian architect and author Basil Champneys designed several fine buildings in Mansfield, including the Chapel, private and public rooms, and the libraries and Principal’s Lodgings. Feilden Fowles’ proposals, in consultation with conservation architect Marcus Beale, aim to integrate these Grade II* listed buildings and the site’s rich heritage with contemporary ideas about study and community, embodying the inclusive and respectful culture that defines Mansfield today. The project team includes Structure Workshop (structural engineer), Skelly & Couch (MEP and sustainability engineer), Tom Stuart-Smith Studio (landscape designer), Cast (project management and quantity surveying) and Savills (town planning).


The College’s estate development campaign, based on the three pillars of people, place and culture, seeks to improve the living, teaching and operational efficiency of the College, having a direct, positive impact on the experience of its students, academics, staff and visitors. It also presents the opportunity to provide much needed additional accommodation and facilities, through both new build and the significant enhancement and refurbishment to existing heritage buildings. Proposals include the creation of approximately 200 student bedrooms, a new Porters’ Lodge and College entrance, teaching and learning facilities, and social spaces for students.


Feilden Fowles is excited about the opportunity to re-imagine the College estate on a scale and ambition not seen since the construction of Champneys’ magnificent original college buildings. The project aims to bring long-term social, financial and environmental sustainability to the college, fulfilling its goal to become carbon neutral by 2030. 


Mansfield College launched their campaign at an event in the City of London on Wednesday 6th March, announcing their ambitious plans around People, Place and Culture…  (expand on campaign)

Following a period of consultation with college members and alumni, together with detailed brief development the project team will be progressing with RIBA Stage 2 in June with the ambition of delivering early phases of the estate transformation by 2028.

Edmund Fowles, Director, Feilden Fowles, said:

“Conceived as a whole ensemble, Mansfield College is a unique example of collegiate architecture for its period, and we’ve enjoyed exploring Basil Champneys’ fine buildings and his writing to inform our approach to its evolution. Our designs will have to weave the rich history and identity of the past with contemporary and future ideas about study and community, and most crucially continue to foster the inclusive and respectful culture that defines Mansfield today: open, friendly and welcoming.”

Richard Meier, CEO, Stories, said:

“Stories are excited to be working with Feilden Fowles on this transformational project. Mansfield College is an ideal partner with many aligned values, putting community at the centre of the long term vision for its estate.”

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