(November 2013) Perhaps the façade can be interpreted as follows: the architect may have emulated the ancient trees surrounding the church by limestone, below the trunks, above the section with the branches represented by a stone weave, and at the very top the area with nests and the open skies above.
Bishop Edward King Chapel is the place of worship of Oxfordshire’s Cuddesdon College. The modern complex caused quite a stir in Great Britain’s architectural landscape, as it was submitted to compete for this year’s Stirling Prize of the Royal Institute of British Architects, where it was among the finalists and, in the end, took away one of the British Construction Industry Awards.
Ripon College is one of the most important centers of education of the Church of England and like the other buildings is kept in the style of other Oxford buildings.
The complex is sober with its elliptical shape but never the less adapts well to its surroundings, as explained by architect Níall McLaughlin: the surrounding area is for him „full of wind and light and the rustling of leaves. Our design seeks to capture these qualities within the building“.
The façade is clad in limestone. Above the lower ring with 3.5 m height the branch-weave begins extending for 4 m. The sleek sides of the stone are sawmill cut. The front of the stone is hand worked. A total of some 36.000 masonry stones measuring 25 x 11 x 9 cm each form the imposing dog tooth walling.
„More attention to detail than price“ was paid in completing the building according to a press release. One of the key cost factors was the mortice joints for which a special compound was used.
The top of the façade opens to windows with limestone pillars from whence daylight flows into the interior of the building. Depending on the weather the church is flooded in luminescence to the point of rainbow effects appearing in the glazing. Or one can observe the movement of the shadows along the walls during a longer stay.
The interior is a veritable experience: The wooden posts are reminiscent of a ship’s hull or the pillars of a vault and automatically direct the beholder’s view upward.
The total costs of the building sum up to 2,6 million £ (3,065 million €, 4,15 million US-$). Clipsham limestone, provided by Stamford Stone Company, was implemented. Masonry was realized by Szerelmey Company and carpentry by Cowley Timberwork. Harrison Goldman’s Peter Harrison acted as stone-consultant throughout.
Ripon College, Cuddesdon
Photos: Níall McLaughlin / Front Elevation / Denis Gilbert