Transformation of Rhodes House
Rhodes House is currently undergoing significant redevelopment which will both restore the existing parts of the building as well as constructing a new modern conference centre in the basement.
This building project will transform Rhodes House into a leading convening centre and home for the Trust and our Partners to support our core mission. The users of the new space will be Scholars in Residence, Staff, Rhodes Scholar Alumni, Fellows from our Partnership programmes, collaboration with the wider University of Oxford and the local community. It will be a world class facility for gathering, learning, collaborating, and sharing. As part of this project there will also be improved sustainability credentials and improved accessibility for all.
How will Rhodes House become a more open space?
- Accessibility: Throughout the House and gardens with additional lifts and ramps
- Archaeology: Making the Civil War Rampart in the garden a special feature and explaining its context with additional interpretation material
- Public access: Greater transparency and access to visitors, regular open days to include tours of the building and explanation of its architecture and the work of the Trust
- Public engagement: Exhibits that critically engage contested legacies, facilitate debate and dialogue about them, and raise challenging questions about how we heal, reconcile and overcome the inequities of the past.
- Open garden events: Guided tours throughout the spring and summer providing information on the landscape architecture, biodiversity and planting
- Arts programmes: An annual cycle of temporary exhibitions open to the public
- Local Community access: Actively encourage community engagement through internships, apprenticeships and the use of Rhodes House facilities.
The reconfigurable convening hall will accommodate events for up to 300 participants, and will be suitably equipped with the tech required for those who are sitting in Oxford to interact fully and collaboratively with those sitting in remote locations around the globe – all of which will be presented on a series of large video walls.
We will also have the capacity to live-stream events easily, and anticipate being able to invite our global community to stay connected with the Oxford community through regular streamed events.
How will Rhodes House become more accessible?
- Moving around Rhodes House: Five new lifts will be installed around the building, ensuring that all rooms and routes around the House will be fully accessible. Automatic door openers will ensure that all people can move freely and independently around the building.
- Accessibility for those with limited hearing or sight: Recent advances in IT and AV systems have enabled us to design cutting-edge technical systems. Building users will be able to view and listen to presentation or video content from their own devices (or one supplied by us), enabling them to utilise their preferred accessibility options (such as zoomed text or augmented audio).
- Inclusion in virtual and physical events: We are installing extensive room microphone systems so that anybody speaking in the convening halls will be clearly heard through the devices, allowing all attendees virtual or present, to participate fully in interactive meetings.
- Accessible accommodation: There will be three fully wheelchair-accessible bedrooms. These rooms will be beautifully appointed, and will include all of the physical and technical aids to ensure that users feel safe and secure for the duration of their stay at Rhodes House.
In these challenging times, we feel that it is more important than ever that we can provide the means for our local and global communities to work together collaboratively, and effectively: digital innovation will enable us to stay connected to our global community much more readily. Adapting and transforming the architecture of Rhodes House reflects in built form the transformation we are undergoing as an organisation. It respects and acknowledges the past while looking to an open and progressive future.
Thanks to the efforts of our leading edge architects, highly regarded local contractors and the Oxford City Planners, we have developed a new vision for Rhodes House in which we can all take pride. The proposed development will enhance the House with sympathetic alterations to ensure it remains a magical part of Oxford’s architecture, operates effectively and sustainably, and benefits our Scholars and Partners, the University and the City for the next 100 years and beyond.