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Food for thought

In a normal year, students adhere rigorously to the “no food or drink allowed” rule in the grade 1 listed Senior Library. That rule, though, will be lifted from Michaelmas 2023 as the space transforms into a servery and dining hall for the duration of a refurbishment project at the area of College known as the “East Range.”

Earlier this week a crane occupied Oriel Square as fifteen cabins, which are to house a temporary kitchen, were lifted over the Provost’s Lodgings and into Second Quad.

Expected to continue for at least a year, the East Range Project will involve extensive renovation to the buildings on the east side of First Quad. That includes the bar, dining hall and kitchen, and also the ‘Box’ and Champneys Room.

There is a special focus on revamping College’s social spaces and ensuring that all students, staff and visitors can access all the areas safely and with ease.

As the fifth oldest college at the University of Oxford, Oriel’s buildings are intrinsic not only to its ceremonial and convivial tradition but also to the everyday life of its staff and students. It is therefore important that they adapt to College’s growing modern community.

Mr. Colin Bailey, who is Master of Works at Oriel and responsible for overseeing the East Range Project, said: “This is such an exciting venture. The much-needed kitchen will have an additional new internal access from the bar and a better flowing servery. Toilets are being repositioned to serve both the bar and dining hall.

“The changes to the overall design provide more inclusive accessibility outcomes with well-designed lift lobbies and platform lifts that will enable people with limited mobility to access all dining and bar areas within the East Range scheme”.

College’s dining facilities will move from Hall to the Senior Library from Michaelmas Term. Diners are to enter through the south-west entrance of Senior Library building, climb up the curved staircase, and then turn left.

The dining area they will enter should retain the look and feel of the existing Senior Library but the space will be lined with tables and chairs, the air enlivened by conversation and laughter.