News 01.12.2021

Oxford Humanities submitted for planning

Gillespies has supported the University of Oxford in submitting plans for a £150 million humanities complex, situated on the University’s historic Radcliffe Observatory Quarter site, close to the Grade I listed Radcliffe Observatory off Woodstock Road.

The Hopkins-designed Schwarzman Centre, named after its benefactor philanthropist and businessman Stephen A. Schwarzman, will provide state-of-the-art academic, exhibition, library and performance spaces set within a high-quality, accessible campus landscape, designed by Gillespies.

The emerging public realm proposals will create a welcoming setting for the University building with improved pedestrian and cycle connections and a series of distinctive landscapes to the north and south of the building.

The proposals include a social lawn and garden, with pockets of vibrant planting and seating to the north, which offer spaces for students and staff to relax and gather, with uninterrupted views to the Humanities Building and the historic Observatory. New tree planting brings form and structure to the landscape, creating seasonal interest and increasing biodiversity and urban greening, supporting the Universities environmental aspirations. At the southern entrance of the New Humanities Building, a large plaza space lined with trees, seating and planting, guides visitors towards the main entrance and provides opportunities for rest and social interaction. A garden space to the southeast, enclosed by planting, offers a more intimate, quieter space suited to informal relaxation and occasional performance events with direct connections to the Exhibition Hall.

A schools engagement garden and accessible and non-accessible roof terraces contribute to the enhanced connection between building and landscape whilst enhancing biodiversity improvements considerably.

Cycle parking is provided at the centre of the scheme, with equal access from Walton Street and Woodstock Road, and in close proximity to the main building entrances to encourage active and sustainable travel to and from the site.

Gillespies also undertook a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment to ensure the building was sensitive to its historic context.

A planning decision on the scheme is due in the spring.