Blog: SECBE Awards 2022 finalist - Student Castle Oxford

06 April 2022

Residential Project of the Year

Student Castle Oxford (submitted by fjmtstudio) 

Residential Project of the Year Constructing Excellence SECBE Award 2022 Finalist

Oxford is experiencing a period of change and transformation.

Its historic city centre is juxtaposed with under-used urban areas that belie the unique character of the city. Student Castle is the landmark first project to be completed as part of the wider regeneration of Oxpens, one such area, in the Oxford West End. Recognising its importance as a gateway to the city, it creates a considered permeability that ensures good physical and visual connections with its surrounds and adjoining site. The human scale of the development is an articulated response, with
a height, scale and massing that provides an appropriate urban grain with a richness of detailing and materiality to reflect the colours and materials that commonly comprise the city centre, with a consistency used to establish a common identity and character.

The client’s vision for Student Castle Oxford was to combine the best in modern student living, with a perfect location, and top on-site facilities. The council’s vision for Oxpens added to this, asking that Student Castle Oxford contribute positively to the regeneration of the area. Student Castle Oxford provides a sustainable outcome and sense of community through the provision of an array of shared and communal facilities and landscaped terraces that responds to the needs and care of the contemporary student, enhancing their university experience of its residents. Drawing reference from Oxford’s traditional collegiate architecture, the buildings are modulated by covered walkways and green spaces, with a varied roofscape that responds appropriately to the scale of the city.

Student Castle Oxford provides 515 rooms of high-quality student accommodation – a mixture of single and double bedroom studio flats, and shared ‘cluster’ flats – arranged in three distinct but connected urban blocks. Drawing reference from Oxford’s traditional collegiate architecture, the buildings are modulated by covered walkways and green spaces, with a varied roofscape that responds appropriately to the scale of the city. The buildings are further articulated by a series of framed elements and different facade types that emphasise a strong vertical grain and add variety to the streetscape. The communal spaces are primarily gathered at street level with an active street frontage. The ‘common room’ acts as the hub of community life, while other amenities – including cafe, gym, laundry, and more – are connected by an ‘internal street’ that extends through the buildings and green spaces to the vertical circulation cores. Together, the buildings reinforce the importance of the local environment and principles of sustainable development, while setting an important benchmark for development in the wider area.

Student Castle Oxford was completed in 2021 despite the challenges of building during a pandemic. It was delivered by an overlapped design and build process, within strict budget parameters and to a  construction cost of £37.2 million, and through creative design exceeded the client’s expectations and maximised its commercial feasibility by achieving a greater number of rooms on the site. It is designed not only around the student experience, but to contribute to the wider community, and the regeneration of the area.


Key achievements:

  • Student Castle Oxford is the landmark first project to be completed as part of the wider regeneration of Oxpens, in the Oxford West End, and it sets an important benchmark for development in the wider urban area. It provides a sustainable outcome and sense of community through the provision of an array of shared and communal facilities and landscaped terraces that responds to the needs and care of the contemporary student and enhancing their university experience.

  • Student Castle was completed in 2021 despite the challenges of building during a pandemic. It was delivered by an overlapped design and build process, within strict budget parameters and exceeded the client’s expectations by achieving a greater number of rooms on the site which allowed the project to afford higher quality finishes and to set more ambitious sustainability outcomes for the benefit of the city.

  • Sustainable land-use and biodiversity are key to Student Castle Oxford. It sits alongside the railway, on a brownfield site previously used as an industrial estate and railway yard. These uses resulted in a site devoid of green space and soft landscaping, and so integrating buildings and landscaping was a key principle that underpinned Student Castle.


Client: Student Castle 

Project Partners: Tier Consult, Martin Design Associates Ltd, Eckersley O’Callaghan, Quartz Project Services, Winvic Construction Ltd


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


About the Residential Project of the Year (sponsored by SCF): 

This award recognises developments that provide a desirable and sustainable place to live that demonstrate creative approaches from concept to delivery.  More info.


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

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