Blavatnik School of Government

Benefactor Leonard Blavatnik wanted a 'bold' design
Benefactor Leonard Blavatnik wanted a 'bold' design

Posted - February 02, 2016

Oxford's most striking new building

When the plans were for this building were first presented, some Jericho residents were startled. But now many people regard the finished building as a fresh and welcome local landmark. Completed in late 2015, it houses Oxford University’s School of Government which has around 150 post-graduate students.

The radical design, by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, was driven in part by the vision of the benefactor, the Russian entrepreneur, Leonard “Len” Blavatnik, who donated £75 to establish the School. He wanted something bold, and he certainly got it.

The lower ground floor has two lecture theatres above which there are four levels which embrace a large central atrium. This open structure is designed to ensure easy interaction between staff, students and visiting government officials. Most offices have glass walls. All the blinds are programmed to open up every morning to ensure that the building is consistently flooded with light.

This is one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the city. Geothermal boreholes will provide heating and cooling through ground-source heat pumps, and the toilets are flushed with rainwater. At present the aspect from Walton Street looks very ‘hard’, with not a tree in sight, but the hope is that along with the rest of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter over the next few years there should be some planting to present a softer streetscape.

The building is not open to the public, however there are likely to be a series of events, such as lectures and debates, which anyone should be able to attend.

For further details about the building, visit the Blavatnik School of Government website.

Did you know?

About the church bells?

Originally the Church only had the single ‘Barney’s Bell’. In 1890, when the clock was installed, it was decided to add a set of tubular bells to ring the chimes and the hour strike, as well as a tune or ‘carillon’. The are driven by an elaborate mechanical contraption.

How religious we are?

In the 2001 Census, some 50% of Jericho residents said they were Christian, 2.2% Muslim, 1.9% Buddhist and 1.2% professed other religions, while 34% of people said they had no religion. In Oxford as a whole the proportion with no religion was 24%.