Wolfson College was founded by Isaiah Berlin in 1966 following donations from the Wolfson Foundation and the Ford Foundation. It was designed by Powell and Moya, one of Britain’s most significant post-war architectural practices. Work started in 1968 and was completed in 1974, the same year Powell and Moya’s practice won the Royal Medal for Architecture. It is an important example of the architecture of its period. The buildings are carefully detailed and are referred to by the 20th Century Society as: “a classic piece of low-key modern architecture of high quality and particular elegance”. The college was listed Grade II in 2011.
Max Fordham Partnership, mechanical and electrical consultants, were engaged by college in 2020 to work with the design team to produce an energy report for the whole college. This resulted in a list of proposals that will be most effectively reduce the heat loss of the buildings and so reduce the college carbon footprint. The conclusion from Max Fordham Partnership is that if effective measures are taken to reduce the heat loss, energy use can be generated by electrically driven heat pumps replacing the existing gas boilers to provide the remaining heat required. This electricity is to be sourced from renewable supplies, making the energy net zero carbon.
The upgrading work is possible due to a successful government grant application.
The proposed works address shortcoming in the existing buildings when assessed against current standards and regulations, in terms of thermal and energy performance. Works include reroofing, glazing replacement and associated builder’s works and replacement of gas-fired boilers in the central plant room with air source heat pumps. All of the works are undertaken within a sensitive historical environment and are to be carried out in a fully operational college environment.