Green light for controversial Middle East Centre project

first_imgTHE UNIVERSITY has given the go-ahead to plans to build a new Middle East Centre at St Anthony’s College after positive feedback from local residents. The Centre, known as the Stonebridge Building, has been designed by Zaha Hadid, a Baghdad-born architect famous for her outlandish form-bending designs, and will provide new facilities, including a library and an enlarged lecture theatre. The centre’s planned redevelopment has previously been criticised as having the potential to cause social problems in the local residential area.Described as an “elongated tunnel” and resembling the upturned hull of a ship, the new structure will be situated between Victorian and Edwardian era houses on Woodstock Road in north Oxford.Dr Eugene Rogan, director of the Middle East Centre, said, “We knew that we would get a modern design as soon as we went to Zaha Hadid. Her designs sit comfortably between the two buildings. It is a 21st century structure that does not overpower or upstage the surrounding buildings.”Rogan added, “I am sure people who do not like modern architecture will find grounds for objecting to this. It is a question of taste.”On Friday, an anonymous blogger rebuked the plans on local website ‘thisisoxford.’They wrote, “So who exactly is going to stop the University doing exactly what they want to? The University can and will do anything in this City that it has a mind to.”Debbie Dance, director of Oxford Preservation Trust which was not invited to the consultation, said, “It is always good to see new and innovative designs coming forward, but whether this building is right in this place is the question to be answered. “This area of North Oxford has a recognisable character which is valued by many people, and we look forward to understanding how the architect and College feel that their proposals are to add to this in a positive way.”A University spokesperson claimed that the response from local residents had been positive.”Neighbourhood consultations were well attended and the plans were generally well received. Some of those who attended offered criticisms of the plans for the Softbridge building, but most of the comments fed back to the Middle East Centre have been favourable,” they said.Hadid’s other projects have included the Mind Zone at the Millennium Dome, the Rosenthal Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, and the BMW Central Building in Leipzig. She is also charged with building the 2012 Olympic Aquatics centre in East London.last_img read more