Belsize Architects has completed the new £2 million boathouse for Oxford University College. The college lost its Listed Boathouse in 1999 as a result of a fire and recently decided to organize an architectural competition for a new Boathouse. Belsize Architects entry was chosen as the winning scheme.
Architect Shahriar Nasser from Belsize Architects said he had adopted a high-risk strategy to convince University College that a modern building could work on the riverbank site. “I think the idea was that if you were going to do a modern building, it was at your own risk,” he said, adding that he was inspired by the area’s horizons to introduce a strong horizontal element into his design, which he describes as being “a lot like a blade or an oar”.
The concept underpinning the design draws inspiration from the surrounding landscape with the site edged by the river and the wide, horizontal vistas across the water meadows. The shape of the building, with a height of two storeys, has a deliberate horizontal emphasis that is sympathetic to the landscape and is in reference to nautical traditional design. The aim of the scheme is to provide, on the bank of the river, a backdrop to the rowing activity where, as in a theatre stage, rowers play out their inpidual parts to an audience which finds shelter and shares accommodation in the new boathouse.