Blog: SECBE Awards 2022 finalist - Radley College, Chapel Extension

31 March 2022

Conservation & Regeneration

Radley College, Chapel Extension (submitted by Beard Construction) 

Conservation & Regeneration Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 Finalist

Beard Construction is renowned for conservation work on Grade I Listed buildings in Oxford City Centre, and many of these projects are remarkable, but they are often difficult because of general construction challenges such as minimal access, no storage capacity, occupied buildings, proximity to neighbours, missing design information etc.

Radley College Chapel had some of these normal construction challenges, but it was genuinely different due to the complexity of the skills required to deliver it. 

The Chapel was a ‘once in a life-time’ project as quoted by the construction manager (who has decades of preservation experience). It is very rare to work with five separate craft companies all working together with millimetre accuracy; the marble floor had to line up with the hand-made bricks, which had to slot between the stone arches, these had to line up to the intricate timber ceiling, this had to fit the glass lantern precisely, which in turn was surrounded by hand-made lead tiles each weighing 42kg.

The level of planning and design time spent on this chapel was immense. Each of the specialist contractors treated this project as ultra-exclusive and spent months of their time planning intricate details, making models, re-working ideas, assembling and dis-assembling creations. Individual craftsmen were genuinely concerned and interested in how their work would affect the next trade.

At one of the meetings all the craftsmen decided they wanted to leave something behind in the chapel, and everyone contributed to a time capsule. The men on site felt a connection to the project and were very keen to let the finders know they delivered this inspiring building during a pandemic, which will add to the story when the box is found.

The success of this ambitious project is down to a client and team of consultants and craftspeople who were committed to delivering a bold, complex and beautiful scheme to the highest standards.
Upon entering the completed chapel, the atmosphere is immediately noticeable, it feels an overwhelmingly special place, and the fact it changes the way you feel is testament to the unfaltering pursuit of perfection delivered by each and every person on this team.

Key achievements:

  • The complexity of this project is rare in terms of the sheer volume of elite craftsmen required and the management skills required to build the correct team. If any of the leadwork, stonework, brickwork, timber work and marble packages did not perform in an outstanding manner the whole project would have been at risk. 

  • The customer was particularly impressed with the level of effort Beard Construction went to by creating a Trompe d’eoil, so the boys were not disrupted.

  • Conscientious and capable managers who were brave enough to make expensive decisions and use their experience of other recessions to buy key materials 18 months in advance of needing them. This meant future price rises did not affect this job.

Client: Radley College

Project's Partners: Beard Construction, Purcell Architects, Ridge, OG Stonemasons, Carpenter Oak, Hoare Lea, Campbell Reith Hill LLP

Find out more about Beard Construction





Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 Ceremony on Thurs 30th June 2022.

>> Find out more about the other Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards finalists here

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