Purcell has completed the conversion of a historic thatched barn into a visitor centre on Christ Church Meadow, a large space in the centre of Oxford that is open to the public year-round. The new facility provides an interpretation area, shop, cafe, ticket office and seminar space, and has enabled the Chapter House of Christ Church – which was previously used as a tourist shop – to be restored.
“Our project team built a strong case for the conservation scheme and developed a design that integrated well with its historic context”, says the architect. “Extensive consultation with stakeholders, Historic England and the council informed the final proposals”.
The early nineteenth-century thatched barn, which has been unused for many years, has been extended to accommodate more than 400,000 annual visitors. “Using traditional building materials – timber, thatch, slate and stone – our team ensured that the additions look integrated within its rural setting”, says the architect. “The orientation of the new additions was carefully assessed to help frame the views of the surrounding meadow and Christ Church. New interpretation facilities inform visitors about the meadow, the thatched barn and the college’s history”.