Andrew Dawson, Joelle Darby
The original buildings at Keble College were designed by William Butterfield between 1868 and 1882. All of the buildings have a Grade 1 listing and are wonderfully intact. The first floor Dining Hall is the centre of the college community so providing equal access ensures that everyone can appreciate and experience such a wonderful venue.
The project involves the careful insertion of a platform lift to the Dining Hall. Departing from ground floor through a lobby carved out of the corner of a pantry, the lift allows the occupant to rise up into the main body of the hall arriving adjacent to the entry doors.
The project required firstly detailed and protracted negotiation with Historic England and the Local Authority and secondly intricate detailing with specialist craftsmen, coordinating the lift code requirements with the constraints of the existing building fabric.
Butterfield was an innovative and versatile designer of furniture and fittings; in accordance with this the lift was seen as a piece of furniture rather than a fixture to the building, partly to lessen the visual impact but also to illustrate its reversibility and to allow separation between what is original and what is new. Detailing carefully references the timber and metalwork altar rails, furniture detailing and screens located elsewhere in Keble.
The platform is located to sit precisely within an encaustic tiled inset leaving the stone border and timber section under the adjacent table intact. The tiled floor becomes the platform moving down a sheer shaft to the ground floor below; all that remains is a wrought iron railing to the shaft.
While having a profound impact on the accessibility and functionality of the hall the platform lift quietly asserts itself on the Dining Hall as an intervention befitting of its context.