The Twentieth Century Society is delighted that the Hilda Besse building, St Antony’s College, Oxford, by Howell, Killick, Partridge & Amis (HKPA), is now listed at grade II. Designed and realised in the period 1962-71, the building is a key work by HKPA, who had worked for the London County Council’s Architects Department Housing Division before forming their private practice. HKPA designed a number of interesting college buildings during the course of the 1960s and their work considered in its entirety constitutes a significant contribution to mid-century educational architecture. EH particularly notes the ‘skilful application of concrete in a modern interpretation of the traditional hall’ and as ‘perhaps the ultimate expression of the HKPA idiom of prefabricated, post and lintel construction and may be their finest work.’
The Society supported the proposed listing of the Hilda Besse building. Its intelligent break-up of the apparent symmetry of the building, clarity of structure, innovative concrete design, and skilful control of natural lighting were all reasons that the Society thought the building deserves to be included in the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.
The Society is pleased to note that EH gave particular mention to the stepped plinth and paved approach to the building – elements that C20 had previously fought for. Now under statutory protection, this very special building will be safeguarded for future generations and any necessary alterations will be monitored in line with the national policy guidelines on the Historic Environment.