Le College Sainte Catherine: French perspectives on St Catherine's


Le College Sainte Catherine: French perspectives on St Catherine's

Despite being arguably one of the most unconventional architectural ventures in Oxford, the French press have displayed an overwhelming warmth towards the College and its design over the past few years.

Marie Godfrain praised its “combination of poetry and pragmatism” and how it maintains a balance “between nature and technology”, as well as publishing an entire article on the revolutionary nature of the Jacobsen chairs that occupy high table.

Margot Guicheteau remarked that architect Arne Jacobsen “knew how to imbue concrete with the finish of a precious stone”, also commenting on the softening effect of the greenery on the somewhat austere first impression of the building.

Finally, the sociologist Jean-Michel Léger enthusiastically embraced St Catherine's as an embodiment of “architectural modernity within the gothic/neo-gothic city of Oxford”. He particularly praised the “simplicity of the lines”, the “precision of the detail”, and the “versatility of the designer”.

Our friends across the Channel have clearly shown great interest in the unusual establishment of our modern yet historic site. Any French speakers who are similarly fans of Catz’ unique design may also be interested in reading Léger’s book Usage, which explores brutalism, functionalism and the marriage between beauty and practicality in further fascinating detail.