Looking forward to teaching at Cohen Quad

As the Fellows start to think about the year ahead, four are preparing to move into Cohen Quad and will reside in the stunning Fellows’ Sets on the third floor of the building.

20160825 Cohen Quad site visit Fellows' sets (1)

A Fellow’s Set – work in progress!

Alongside Philipp Kukura (we posted about his impressions and expectations of Cohen Quad in July), Christina de Bellaigue, Jackson Fellow in Modern History, will also be moving to Cohen Quad.

Having recently visited the site, she said: “I’ve just been down to Cohen Quad with Gez [Wells, the Deputy Bursar] and am so impressed. It really is stunning and will be a hugely invigorating space for us all to work and teach in”.

20160825 Cohen Quad site visit Fellows' sets (4)

Another Fellow’s Set


And how a Fellow’s Set will look when completed

We can tell she’s really excited as she has opted to move from her lovely set on the Front Quad at Turl Street and is looking forward to teaching some of her tutorials in the Neil Blair Special Collections Reading Room where students will be able to study from our own archives and special collections.

20160825 Cohen Quad site visit reading room (1)

The Neil Blair Special Collections Reading Room

Architect's rendering of the reading room at Cohen Quad

And how the Reading Room will look when finished

Stunning roof revealed

Over the last week, some of the scaffolding has been removed from the south cloister of Cohen Quad, revealing the upper levels of the building.

20160822 Rimex tiling above s cloister

The Rimex tiling is in place and the checker-board pattern is clearly established along the exterior walls. It really highlights the stunning dormer windows which protrude and will flood the internal corridors and rooms with natural light.

20160822 Rimex tiling above s cloister - dormer windows

We are also now able to see the beautiful curve of the roof-line as the tiles wrap around the roof and down the walls, creating a seamless cloak around the building.

20160822 Rimex tiling roof curve

20160822 Rimex tiling from interior window

Fellows prepare to move in to Cohen Quad

Five of Exeter’s Fellows will move into Cohen Quad later this year. They are excited by the elegant and modern design and also by the Quad’s close proximity to the humanities hub at the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter and the science area.

Professor Philipp Kukura, Exeter’s Fellow in Physical Chemistry, will be among the five. He visited the building site recently and commented: ‘I cannot wait to welcome and teach my first tutorials in this wonderful new space!

‘Cohen Quad will have a transformative influence not only on Exeter College, but on the collegiate University as a whole. As important as the historical buildings are in making Oxford what it is, as critical will it be that the University provides living and teaching space that is suitable for the 21st century and truly competitive on the world stage.

‘I cannot remember visiting a higher education building that felt so futuristic, but so appropriate and inspiring at the same time.’

Professor Kukura’s teaching room will be on the third floor of Cohen Quad, adjacent to other fellows’ rooms and the Senior Common Room.


A fellow’s teaching room on the third floor of Cohen Quad


A fellow’s teaching room on the third floor of Cohen Quad


Architect’s render of a finished teaching room


Architect’s render of the completed Quad with the fellows’ teaching rooms and SCR, with their floor-to-ceiling windows and sloping roof, visible on the third floor

South cloister arches in place

The final task of the Cohen Quad crane, before it was removed from the site at the end of June, was to hoist the wooded (glulam) arches of the south cloister into place.


Running west across the site, from the Porters’ Lodge to the Learning Commons, these magnificent arches form a covered colonnade across the quad. Their impressive height continues the sense of space that is achieved in the Porters’ Lodge and mirrored in the Learning Commons.

The cloister itself is glazed – at least two out of the three Oxford terms are decidedly wet! – and the sunlight just pours into this space which draws you further in.



The design of the arches – and the perspective they create – forms a visually stunning route that leads to teaching rooms and out onto the Benson (south) Quad itself.


The elegant ceiling of the auditorium

The glazing is now complete in Cohen Quad’s auditorium and, with the summer sun pouring in, it’s easy to see what a stunning and dynamic performance and lecture space this will be.


The auditorium glazing

The wishbone timber rafters create a unique sense of identity which are further illuminated by the roof lights installed towards the front of the auditorium.


The timber rafters with light pouring into the auditorium

From the exterior, on the scaffolding of the third floor, looking down, the curve of the roof is easy to spot and is an elegant addition to the north quadrangle.


View of the exterior

The interior walls will be stone clad, and there is a hidden storage space behind a false wall to the west of the building in order to store furniture when it’s not needed. This will ensure that the auditorium is fully versatile and suitable for performances, lectures, concerts, and even dinners.


The interior of the auditorium

Rimex tiles installed at Cohen Quad

A few weeks ago, it was possible to get up close to the first of the Rimex tiles that had been installed at Cohen Quad creating the distinctive checker-board roof.


The Rimex-tiled roof

The tiles are of a wonderful muted bronze and champagne colour with an unusual texture. They catch, but don’t reflect, the sunlight. Looking at these close up, it’s not hard to imagine just how spectacular they will look when all the wrapping and scaffolding is removed.


The Rimex tiles around a window

However, many people have asked where the design concept originated and the answer is simple: from within Jericho itself.

Jericho House

A Jericho house

Jericho was the physical heart of the arts and crafts movement in Oxford instigated by Morris, Burne-Jones, and Ruskin over 100 years ago. This is evident in the wonderful brick work that we see in the buildings around Cohen Quad and even at Keble College.


Keble College

It’s also visible at Exeter in the Victorian tiling of the Chapel floor and its unique flèche (spire).

Chapel Floor

The Exeter College Chapel floor

Exeter Chapel fleche

Exeter Chapel flèche 

And given that these tiles are being hand-folded on-site, we’re confident that great masters such as Morris, Burne-Jones, and Ruskin would have approved!

Rimex tile single

Single Rimex tile held for scale

Cohen Quad – a quick (visual) recap

It’s been over 18 months now since the original Ruskin College buildings were demolished, the façade anchored in place, and 14,200 tons of earth removed in 710 lorry loads. Today, much of the core structure is completed, the auditorium is in place, and the glazing and roofing are now being put in place.

Each week, Fran Monks (Friend of Exeter) has taken a photograph of the site from the roof of her home in Worcester Place. We’ve put them all together in a time-lapse video which you can view here:


Watch as we excavate into the basement, look out for the arrival of the big red crane, see the creation of the arched colonnade, view the construction of each floor, and be amazed at the building of the auditorium with its signature wish-bone rafters! The video finishes with most of the building swathed in weatherproof plastic, but you can still catch a glimpse of the glazing and rimex roofing.