Blot on the Townscape #1 – Oxford

Looking at this horror in the centre of the city you might think it was an electricity sub-station with those gates,  or even University squash courts. But no, it is a block of flats in an area of Victorian terraces between the Cowley and Iffley Roads!


I would think of early 1990s vintage,  you can imagine the elevations drawn up by a first year architecture student of the time with that roof design, but didn’t anyone do a perspective? What was the reason for all those lumpy volumes crashing into each other? We will never know. The end elevation is a blank canvas on to which a random assortment of ventilators and lights have been scattered. The views out wouldn’t be great but perhaps the poor souls inside might like to have had a bigger window or two for some fresh air. Maybe they have at the back overlooking the car park. The period dreary brown/red multi brick was presumably chosen to go with the fashion at the time not the London stock and red brick of the nearby terraces.

Why pick on this one for the first post in the series?  It is a typical example of the thousands of anonymous, dreary, small-scale brown brick/brown windows buildings shoved up by developers and councils without any care or thought that have blighted most of our towns and cities.

Most think of Oxford as the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ but this is only a small part of the centre. Apart from a few pleasant areas where the wealthier academics live much of it looks dreadful. The University is also guilty of many abominations to be featured in later posts.

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