Oxford Architectural Walkaround
On Thursday, around 20 architectural staff from Wolff Architects visited the city of Oxford, to enjoy an afternoon away from our computers and admire a variety of buildings on an informal walk-around.
We started at the top of the tower of the University Church of St Mary, in the heart of the mediaeval city, which overlooks many of the oldest academic institutions of the university and their green quads and ‘dreaming spires’, including All Souls College East Range Towers (Hawksmoor, 1767) and the Radcliffe Camera (Gibb, 1737). We then visited the precincts of the Bodleian Library (1603), and the RIBA Stirling Prize shortlisted Weston Library, a reworking by Wilkinson Eyre of Sir G. Gilbert Scott’s 1937 New Bodleian building.
After a short break, we paid a visit to the late Dame Hadid’s Middle East Centre for St Anthony’s College (2015), and Herzog & De Meuron’s recent Blavatnik School of Government building (also Stirling-Shortlisted) , which at present sits isolated as the wider former Radcliffe Infirmary site awaits further development.
Next on our itinerary was the University Museum of Natural History (1855), a highly decorative Victorian building which has recently been carefully conserved by Purcell – although a few of our number visited Keble College instead (Butterfield, 1868) to admire it’s brickwork. After strolling through the University Parks we concluded with a visit to St Catherine’s College, (Jacobsen, 1964), where we admired the leafy modernist approach to the Oxbridge model, including the largest college hall in Oxford.
The University of Oxford has a long history of procuring interesting and fine quality buildings, and many of these are located in very close proximity within this compact city, allowing us to see a great range of styles and ideas in a very short period of time.
We concluded with drinks at a rooftop bar admiring the evening skyline.