Bicester Airfield

A competition entry for a new hotel and garages with accommodation for the Bicester Airfield Heritage Site

Bicester Airfield
Client: Private
Value: £10million+
Date: 2016
Size: 10,000+sqm
Status: Competition Entry
Location: Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

The Bicester Airfield covers 348 acres and is located North-East of Bicester along the A4421. It is surrounded by a 2 mile perimeter track and has two full runways. Bicester Heritage purchased the RAF Bicester site in 2013 to provide motor enthusiasts with an inspiring location to complement their passion and sport. The site has been progressively refurbished since its purchase, in a manner respectful of the historic value and character.

As part of the development and improvements of the site, Bicester Heritage has launched the design of two projects: 

1. A new independent hotel, housing a variety of associated facilities including a conference centre, a restaurant, spa and gym, and potentially separate cottage/lodge accommodation.

2. Garages with accommodation (GWA) detached, semi-detached or terraced properties which place the car or motorbike at the centre with ancillary accommodation designed around it.

The site is a significant piece of British military history and uniquely retains much of its original layout and fabric. Our approach is to provide contemporary, appropriate designs, tailored to the brief and to the site.

An hotel design inspired by the wings of an airplane to provide elevated views of the air field, in double stacked wings of accommodation floating above the landscape. The project provides an open plan arrangement at ground level for reception, restaurant, entertainment and events in a linear arrangement with support functions (a conference centre, spa and gym) tucked under at lower ground level. The geometry of the layout is configured with a gentle curve to embrace the airfield plan starting from the main front hangar line to its main axis, thus linking the new plan to the existing airfield buildings and reinforcing the detailing and language that is inspired by aircraft design. 

The accommodation wings float above a raised ground floor ‘land form’.  The structure is an elegant repeatable section with integrated building services. The structural material is an expressed, ‘flitched’ section (a composite of timber with a steel inner section). Combined with brise-soleil and glazing, the external fabric is a stressed skin structure of aluminium and timber.

The building is simple and legible, with a clear structural expression which provides an elegant solution.

GWA’s, inspired by the elegance of detailing and design of classic cars. The GWA’s are designed to be modular, flexible, technical workshops with live-in accommodation centred around the art of automotive and aviation preservation, restoration and creation. The buildings are arranged on the plot around the existing landforms to create a hub or ‘village’ for like-minded enthusiasts to inhabit and exhibit. 

The concept is of a linear workshop with accommodation above - a prefabricated living unit within the GWA unit.  A moveable gantry allows vehicles and the accommodation to be moved, creating a flexible internal layout with semi-private and private courtyards to each end.

The GWA’s are made from a prefabricated ‘kit of parts’; we like to think of this like a vehicle made up of its parts.

Bicester Airfield

Site plan

Bicester Airfield

Hotel ground floor

Bicester Airfield

Hotel axonometric section diagram

Bicester Airfield

Hotel front elevation from air field

Bicester Airfield

GVA axonometric view and sketch section

Bicester Airfield

GVA ground floor - garage

Bicester Airfield

GVA first floor - apartment

Location