RMA, Queen’s College Library

What we did

In the spring of 2017, Rick Mather Architects, now MICA architects, completed one of the most a unique and remarkable extension to the Grade 1 listed library at the Queen’s College, Oxford.

RMA/ MICA commissioned Canvas to produce a film to tell the library’s story and celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime project.

The new library sits submerged under a private garden and connects to the original library via a set of stairs. From outside the library is invisible, apart from a set of roof lights, arranged in a ‘haha’ formation, so as to not be seen from a private lodging. For Queen’s College and Rick Mather Architects, this was a highly complex and delicate operation. The landlocked college desperately needed more reading room and storage, and it was the late Rick Mather’s genius that unlocked the solution of a subterranean space, squeezed in between the Grade 1 listed Library and the Medieval garden walls.

The challenge set to Canvas was to capture the simplicity and beauty of this subterranean space, which is largely invisible above ground, and condense over 10 years of story into a 3-4 minute long narrative.

Over two days of filming during the summer of 2017, we conducted interviews with key people from RMA and the College. We knitted their interviews together to tell the remarkable story of this exceptional space. To fully capture the space, we used a combination of aerial drone and steadicam filming, allowing smooth, sweeping camera movements.

man crouching to set up drone on grass
camera man filming in front of wooden wall
camera filming people working on laptops
camera man filming in Queen's College Oxford library with wooden bookcases
reflection of Queen's College Oxford in glass by pavement and grass
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