TS Eliot TheatreMerton College Oxford

A new acoustically responsive theatre for lectures and music in the Grade I listed grounds of Merton College in Oxford.

As part of our long-lasting client relationship, Ridge has been providing professional services to Merton College in Oxford for over 15 years. One of our most prominent projects was the successful design and delivery of the award-winning T.S. Eliot Theatre in the Grade I listed grounds in the heart of Oxford.

The new theatre fills a gap between existing 1930s buildings in Rose Lane. The team at Ridge undertook a detailed analysis of the context and developed a strategy that ensured the new building forms a congruous addition, responding to the scale of the existing buildings with appropriate massing and materials.

A crafted approach was taken to the design and specification of the materials used in the building. Externally the palette is limited to stone and glass, providing a strong sense of continuity with the old city fabric. The use of glass creates a definite visual junction with the existing stone buildings. Internally, bespoke oak panelling is used to manage the acoustic environment. This is paired with rich leathers and warm tone metals to create a high-quality aesthetic.

Considered environmental design was at the heart of the developed proposals. A careful approach to daylight was adopted, which includes large roof lights to provide good quality day lighting and reduce the need for electric light. This was balanced with the acoustic requirements of the lecture theatre, which resulted in external louvres being installed over roof lights to reduce driving rain noise and prevent direct sunshine from reaching the auditorium. The design has also ensured that no sound pollution will be emitted from the building to affect the surrounding gardens or the meadow.

The environmental design along with the building services strategy – which includes a low-energy evaporative cooling plant providing air conditioning – contributed to the project achieving BREEAM Excellent rating.

  • £3.3 million

    Project value

  • 120-seat

    Lecture theatre

  • Oxford Preservation Trust

    Awards