The Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre
Worcester College, Oxford

A new building housing a 160-seat lecture hall, seminar rooms, and catering facilities. The building faces the cricket green and the celebrated Sainsbury Building by MacCormac Jamieson Prichard, within the landscaped gardens of what is one of Oxford's oldest colleges.

The building has been designed as a theatre in the garden, with a new curved lecture theatre at the heart. The elevations are clad in Clipsham stone and a large glazed clerestory floods the space with natural light. The curved colonnade of slim Clipsham stone fins at the back of the auditorium form an open space.

The auditorium roof is curved on plan, with a 30-degree slope requiring cranked rafters, making for a complex geometry. At the perimeter of the curve the roof is supported on small steel columns enclosed in Clipsham stone, which continue above the lower roof and support the slender fins at clerestory level. The rafters support a pleated ceiling formed from glass reinforced gypsum, the mould frame was CNC cut to ensure a high level of precision. Oak has been used for the ceilings and walls, providing a warmth and lightness.

The REVIT model we produced helped the team understand the geometry and gave each tenderer and steel fabricator an initial understanding of the complexities of the lecture theatre roof.

The site is within the functional floodplain of Castle Mill Stream, an area where flood water flows and is stored during storm events. A Flood Risk Assessment was undertaken to support the planning application to demonstrate that the proposed build wouldn't increase the flood risk for the local area. As a result, the building was raised 1.5m above the predicted flood level, providing underfloor voids for flood water storage. Openings in the walls were provided in all directions to ensure the building would not obstruct the flow of flood water and therefore the new development would not displace flood water elsewhere.

The drainage strategy uses Sustainable Drainage Systems. A 1200mm x 600mm egg-shaped brick public sewer was diverted to allow for the new building to be constructed. The diverted public sewer was designed in accordance with Sewers for Adoptions, meeting the Water Authority's requirements.

Completed 2017.

Project Information


Worcester College


Niall McLaughlin Architects




Nick Kane

Jim Stephenson


RIBA Award 2018
RIBA South Award 2018
RIBA South Building of the Year Award 2018
RIBA Stirling Prize Shortlist 2018