Wallpaper China article on The Levine Building at Trinity College

January 11, 2024

A leading multi-channel media brand, Wallpaper China, have published an article on 'ADAM Architecture’s new project - the Levine Building, provides a brand-new space to support the educational future of Trinity College' which includes commentary from ADAM Director Hugh Petter.

Article translation below:


ADAM Architecture’s new project - the Levine Building, provides a brand-new space to support the educational future of Trinity College.

The Levine Building at Trinity College in central Oxford is a substantial new development located in the heart of Trinity's historic site. It was designed by ADAM Architecture to commemorate the parents of Trinity Old Member Peter Levine. ADAM's 70 years of experience in designing buildings in historic and heritage conservation sites is what attracted Trinity College's project management to the project. ADAM Architecture have a profound knowledge of traditional materials and how to use them to create a new building of the highest quality, as well as how to design new buildings to a very high sustainable standard.

The Levine Building's auditorium is the largest function space of its kind on campus and has become the centre of social activity for the entire college. Surrounded by a cluster of historic buildings, cultural landscapes, and trees of historical and even archaeological significance, the building's site is crucial for harmonious coexistence with the existing structures and the protected natural environment. Comprising four distinct buildings, each with its own unique spatial layout and functions, the complex includes 45 student bedrooms, 5 dedicated classrooms, an administration centre, public community spaces, purpose-built teaching rooms, student bedrooms, a large flexible function room, and an informal study/community space with a café.

Trinity College boasts an unusually consistent architectural character, characterised by traditional Classical and Gothic buildings constructed from a similar honey-coloured limestone, a tradition that has endured for centuries. The Levine Building can not only be viewed from a single angle, but it also successfully ensures that each individual volume complements its neighbouring structures. Designing this new building presented several challenges, including the stringent heritage constraints of the site, some listed heritage protection, the physically limited nature of the site, the need to create a flexible building that could be adapted by future generations as needs evolve, and the task of accommodating the diverse range of activities within it. Hugh Petter, Director of ADAM Architecture and Head of the Project Design Team, commented, "Our ambition is to create a significant new building that harmonises with its older neighbours of all ages, employing the same design language and materials palette, yet unmistakably embodying the spirit of the 21st century."

ADAM Architecture conducted a benchmarking exercise amongst other recent college buildings, looking at the quality of their design and accommodation in terms of materials and detailing; longevity; sustainability, and so on to ensure that it would age gracefully, and to ensure too that, over time, if it needed to be reconfigured, that the structure enabled that to occur easily. In construction materials, ADAM Architecture ensured that they used the same Bath limestone as has been used previously in the College and, for the Eastern end, the same ‘Cotswold rubblestone’ as was used on the adjoining New Bodleian library. The Levine Building is Classical using careful proportions to give it an elegant vertical emphasis that resonates aesthetically with its older neighbours and with a quality of construction that similarly mirrors that of the older neighbours.

Worth to mention that the Levine Building is designed to be fully accessible. “In the C21st I think it would be morally wrong not to design a new building of this kind to be fully accessible,” Petter said, “It is not difficult to make buildings fully accessible. The only real challenge in the Levine Building was how to make all the different levels fully accessible, especially where the existing building meets the new library and where the floor levels, for other fixed reasons, were set.  But we achieved it, and I am very proud to have done so.” The core construction is, in essence, a concrete box, and which quick to build and has high thermal mass to help reduce the ongoing running costs. The weight is taken, in the main, upon the external envelope to facilitate future reconfiguration, and the ceilings are high to create uplifting and naturally well lit and ventilated spaces.  The concrete box is an ideal substrate for a self-supporting outer leaf of natural stone.  There are air source heat pumps on the roof hidden behind a parapet, and solar PV on the roof. ADAM Architecture approach is to work with nature as carefully as possible to create a building which needs the minimum amount of energy to make it work and keep it comfortable, and then to meet that residual need in the most efficient way, where possible using renewable technologies. The College has used the Levine Building to ensure that all its core facilities are now fully accessible, and that the clean, elegant and restrained interiors finished in high quality natural materials are a comfortable, neutral background for visitors of all ethnic and social backgrounds to create a warm, relaxed and inclusive atmosphere.

The Levine Building at Trinity College is a high-quality, solid and durable building, is environmentally friendly and full of sustainable technologies. Located in central Oxford is a substantial new development set in the heart of Trinity's historic site – this is the first major upgrade of the college’s academic facilities in more than 50 years. It provides world-class facilities for teaching, residential accommodation, and relevant facilities. Since its completion, the Levine Building has frequently won awards from the architectural profession and has been highly recognised by the industry, and ADAM Architecture's design philosophy of consistently combining traditional design with the most up-to-date modernity and comfort has been continually validated. Petter exclaimed, “The Levine Building is, without a doubt, one of the most important projects of my career.  The opportunity to put such a large new building in such an important and historic setting was a real privilege. I am fiercely proud of what we achieved, not only in terms of an architectural design, but what we have done through that to help the College achieve their social inclusivity and accessibility challenges about which I feel very strongly.”

Read more about the Levine Building at Trinity College.