Masterplan for Pembroke College, Oxford

An intricate masterplan and a game of draughts

In 2021, we won a competition to develop a masterplan for Pembroke College, one of the 39 constituent colleges of the University of Oxford. Pembroke called it a ‘Spaces and Sustainability Masterplan’, emphasising their twin aims of maximising existing space and making buildings as energy efficient as possible.

We consulted everyone willing to talk: Fellows, students, reps from the JCR, MCR, head of strategy, the bursar, the home bursar, accessibility and welfare groups, gardeners, the maintenance team, accounts, librarians, archivists and the sustainability steering group. From more than 50 conversations, themes began to emerge that we could feed back to the steering group and use to develop the design, such as the need for a greater variety of spaces for collaborative study. This led to sites being identified for improvement, varying widely in scale, and confirmed the College’s priority projects:

a new library

a research and graduate centre

additional student accommodation

and a welfare and administrative hub

Alongside the masterplan, a planned preventative maintenance (PPM) report advises on the general state of repair and condition of Pembroke’s properties and costs the first 3 years’ worth of work. Max Fordham led a successful application for Salix Finance which meant Pembroke could realise their sustainability ambitions a bit quicker. Air source heat pumps will replace end-of-life gas boilers in two gas-guzzling buildings. Fabric improvements are planned for the Grade II listed Dining Hall, including an innovative secondary glazing to the stained-glass windows, installation of heat emitters, and a second entrance door to minimise draughts. This will improve the thermal comfort of the Dining Hall as well as increase energy efficiency.


ClientPembroke College, Oxford

AppointedJanuary 2021

M&E Engineer and SustainabilityMax Fordham LLP


Property consultantBidwells