Brutal Oxford

Oxford was my first day trip of the year. Its university is well known and brings people from all over the world to the city. With the growth of Oxford University buildings were needed, many of which date back to its early beginnings. There are examples of many different architectural styles but I was there for one in particular.

Though there is a wealth of historical architecture I was most interested in that of a brutal nature. Oxford University has played a large part in the buildings of the city, and that is true even right up until the modern day. My research started with the Denys Wilkinson Building and grew from there.

Denys Wilkinson Building

The Denys Wilkinson Building is home to the astrophysics and particle physics departments of Oxford University. Designed by Philip Dowson and built in the late 60s it became a prominent example of new brutalism in Oxford. Originally it was named the Nuclear Physics Laboratory as it was going to house the department of nuclear physics. In 2001 the name was changed in honour of British nuclear physicist Sir Denys Wilkinson.

Denys Wilkinson Building - Brutal Oxford

The fan shaped structure is home to a Van de Graaff generator.

Denys Wilkinson Building - Brutal Oxford

Thom Building

Located at the north end of the building is the Thom Building which is home to the Department of Engineering Science. The building is named after Alexander Thom, a Scottish engineer who was a professor at Oxford University.

Thom Building - Brutal Oxford

Oxford Centre for Innovation

The only building featured that isn’t linked to an educational institution. The Oxford Centre for Innovation provides offices and workspaces with the aim to support growing businesses.

Oxford Centre for Innovation - Brutal Oxford Oxford Centre for Innovation - Brutal Oxford

Thomas White Building

The Thomas White Building is Grade II listed and belongs to St John’s College, providing accommodation for its students. The 1960s saw a rise in student admissions and accommodation was needed urgently, Philip Dowson’s design was chosen which created 154 flats.

Brutal Oxford

The Thomas White Building was featured on Historic England’s list of 20 intriguing places in 2017.

Brutal Oxford

Margery Fry House

Officially the  building is called Margery Fry & Elizabeth Nuffield House and it provides accommodation for Somerville college. Slightly back from Little Claredon Street is Vaughan House, similar in style and design only larger in size. Both buildings were also designed by Philip Dowson.

Margery Fry House - Brutal Oxford

Margery Fry House - Brutal Oxford

A concrete exterior frame surrounds both buildings and they sit above a row of shops on street level.

Margery Fry House - Brutal Oxford

 

Further Reading:

I have written about a few other examples of brutal architecture in England and you can find them here:

It’s too Late to Save Welbeck Street Car Park

Saving the Three Ships

The Tricorn

The Tricorn

The Tricorn was a car park situated in the city of Portsmouth. Designed in the early 1960s by Owen Luder and Rodney Gordon, the concrete structure was envisioned as a blank canvas where shop fronts and market stalls would bring colour and life to the building. Originally the building was going to be called ‘Casbah’ meaning Market in the Sky.

The Tricorn

At first the building was heralded with an award for its design, but gradually fell into disrepair. The Tricorn never reached its full potential and it quickly became clear that it would never be used for the purpose for which it was originally intended. 

The Tricorn

There was much debate in the city and the Tricorn gained notoriety as one of the ugliest in the country. It wasn’t long before people were calling for the building to be removed and the area redeveloped.

The Tricorn

After years of delays demolition on the Tricorn began in March 2004, to make way for a large modern shopping centre that would bring change to the City of Portsmouth. Now, the area remains undeveloped. In its place a temporary car park that has slowly become a permanent feature.The Tricorn

Further Reading:

BRUTAL – The Tricorn

My very first printed zine BRUTAL is available to order HERE. It is an A5 book featuring images of the Tricorn shot on film in 2004 shortly before the building was demolished and a cover illustration from Nick Coupland. They were taken as part of a series documenting several changes that the city of Portsmouth was going through at that time. I am hoping to bring other projects to life like this and I can only do that with your support.

The Tricorn