Oxford Westgate opens its doors
The much anticipated renovation and expansion of Oxford’s Westgate Centre opened its doors to the public last week, now rebranded Oxford Westgate. A retail-led, mixed-use development in Oxford’s historic city centre, the project has involved an extensive overhaul and replacement of a 1970s era shopping centre. Allies and Morrison worked collaboratively with masterplanners BDP to bring new life to the 5.6 ha site. Three other buildings have been designed by Glenn Howells Architects, Panter Hudspith Architects and Dixon Jones whilst BDP have been responsible for the design of the common areas which help to join all the buildings together.
Building 3, designed by Allies and Morrison, is a 25,000 sqm urban galleria at the heart of Westgate. It comprises a covered pedestrian street set over two levels lined with double-height shops at upper ground and restaurants. A generously naturally-lit arcade connects two public squares to the north and south and provides Oxford city centre with a generous new, animated pedestrianised space.
Material and colour choice have been important aspects of the design, carefully selected and specified as a contemporary response to the historic identity and textures of Oxford. The composition of external facades are sensitive to the building’s role as a threshold between city centre and an adjacent neighbourhood with a more residential character, expressed through the contrast of a restrained though distinct brick and stone composition facing Greyfriars Place to a more open and glazed elevation facing busy Norfolk Street.
Photography credit: BDP