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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.

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New accommodation at Rhodes House

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.

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Proposed glass pavilion on the lawns

How will Rhodes House become a more open space?

  1. Accessibility-throughout the House and gardens with additional lifts and ramps
  2. Archaeology-making the Civil War Rampart in the garden a special feature and explaining its context with additional interpretation material
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. Open garden events-guided tours throughout the spring and summer providing information on the landscape architecture, biodiversity and planting
  6. Arts programmes-an annual cycle of temporary exhibitions open to the public
  7. Local Community access- Actively encourage community engagement through internships, apprenticeships and the use of Rhodes House facilities.
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New conference centre at Rhodes House

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Proposed stairwell from rotunda

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.

Improved Sustainability and Accessibility

The redevelopment of Rhodes House provides an opportunity to transform the space and make it fit for purpose in the 21st century. At front and center of this is our mission to make Rhodes House truly accessible and sustainable.

The provision of new lifts and ramps will make the building fully accessible to those with restricted mobility. The AV systems will support those with impaired hearing or sight, and will also allow us to simultaneously translate sessions into 2 languages if required.

The redevelopment will also replace the building’s existing heating and lighting systems with sustainable technologies such as a geothermal air source heat pump and high efficiency LED lighting.​

Looking Forward

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.

"Rhodes House is now a hub for every Rhodes Scholar (those in Oxford and our alumni around the world), as well as for our partner programmes. It is a place to convene for regular formal and informal gatherings. With our growth in Scholar numbers and the expansion of our operations through our partnerships, Rhodes House reached a point where the space available was no longer sufficient. We have limited suitable meeting space, and a substantial 1950s basement which had been empty and unused. The new state of the art facility will include flexible office areas and space to hold events for our Scholars and Partners and to create an immersive residential experience for delegates attending from outside Oxford."
- Dr Elizabeth Kiss, Warden & CEO of the Rhodes Trust