Modern Oxford

Walked around Oxford looking at modern buildings. Have spent so much time looking at medieval Oxford and skipping past the modern it was good to give them a proper viewing. Started at St Catherine’s College, Arne Jacobsen 1962 masterpiece, bringing together modern materials within an Oxford college layout. Jacobsen designs are so complete that they reach right down to the cutlery in the dining room. Alan Bullock was Master of St Catz when the new buildings were commissioned. I remember reading Bullock’s biography of Hitler, Study in Tyranny when I was thirteen and thought it the best history text I ever read at school. Despite the atrocious weather we walked past the English and Law faculties (Martin and Wilson 1964), Psychology and Zoology Lab (Martin 1971), Biomedical Sciences (Hawkins Brown 2008), Rhodes House (Baker 1929), Keeble Arco Building (Mather 1995), Nuclear Physics Lab (Ove Arup 1970), and finishing in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter with the Mathematical Institute (Rafael Viñoly 2013) and Blavatnik School of Government (Herzog & de Meuron 2016). A great range from the natural feel of St Catz and the English Libraries through the brutality of the zoology lab to the calm of mathematics institute. The climax was undoubtedly the Blavatnik School of Government – Frank Lloyd Wright in Oxford in 2016, with the Window to the World, the largest single pane of glass in Europe. I now have a new set of buildings to show off to visitors in Oxford and how they intermix with the medieval and Victorian.

St Catherine’s College, Oxford, (Jacobsen 1962) in the sunshine.

Zoology and Psychology Lab, Oxford (Martin 1971)

Interior of Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford (De Herzog and De Meuron 2016)

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