MOST kitchen extensions don’t involve digging beneath an iconic 16th century college building.

But the £6m scheme at The Queen’s College in Oxford’s High Street is not most kitchen extensions.

Described by home bursar Linda Irving-Bell as “the most complicated thing that has been done in Oxford in a generation”, it has now been shortlisted for a prestigious architecture award.

When the college found its old kitchen and dining areas could not cope with the rigors of modern catering it faced a dilemma.

How could it squeeze new kitchens, self service area and formal dining room, into very limited space bordered its iconic baroque buildings?

The answer was to dig deep, and that’s exactly what architects Berman Guedes Stretton did.

Two years on, the sate of the art kitchens are now housed below a historic quad and Grade I listed building.

Above is a self-service area for students and a stunning formal dining room has been integrated between existing college buildings. The innovative work has won it a place on the Riba Awards shortlist.

Dr Irving-Bell said: “It deserves it to be frank. It is a very complicated, difficult and creative project and inspired in its use of space.”

The Riba Awards have been running since 1966 and are given for buildings that have made a substantial contribution to the local environment.

The Queen’s building is joined on the list by Oxford University’s new Earth Sciences department at Oxford University in South Parks Road.

Professor of Geology Philip England said: “We are delighted that the creative design of the architects, Wilkinson Eyre, and the outstanding quality of build, by Laing O’Rourke, have been recognised in this fashion.

“The discipline of Earth Sciences has expanded enormously in the past few years. Until last year, we were housed in a jumble of buildings that dated back as far as 1895, none of them suitable for modern science.”

The buildings, along with the Kendrew Quad (MJP Architects) at St John’s College, St Giles, are three from Oxford on the south region shortlist.

The winners of the awards will be announced on May 19 and will be eligible for consideration for the prestigious Riba Stirling Prize.