Compact Apartments exterior night

- Residential

Compact Apartments: Contemporary living in a historic city centre

Lincoln Enterprises Ltd.




Ben Wallis
Craig Cullimore


In a historic city like Oxford, opportunities for new housing are few and far between. We were excited to have the chance to convert a 1960s office building in the city centre into a suite of compact flats, adding a rooftop extension: the challenge lay in making the best use of limited space.

Oxford’s unique history poses another challenge. The city is famous for its “dreaming spires” – so it was important to make sure that our designs didn’t detract from that stunning medieval skyline, while giving residents access to this unique view.

Approach + Solution

By cannily exploiting every inch of usable space, we managed to create 15 apartments in the building. More importantly, though, the residents live in places that feel spacious: neutral colour schemes, built-in storage and loose furniture all give a sense of openness. We explored a wide range of layout options, and chose to position the bedrooms at the back of the apartments to give the living spaces natural light and ventilation – an important factor in wellbeing.

The rooftop extension includes three-bedroom penthouse apartments, each with a private terrace. Taking our inspiration from origami, we used a folded, angular roof to help the penthouses blend into the skyline. The Oxford Preservation Trust were highly impressed by this approach, awarding us a letter of commendation for creating much-needed housing in the city centre with a minimal impact on Oxford’s rich heritage.

“It’s rare to find such a well-considered development in such a central position, and we have been delighted with how the compact apartments have been received.”