Blavatnik School of Government

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

Oxford's most striking new building

Posted - February 02, 2016

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?

Where we work?

According to the 2001 Census, in Jericho 28% of those working were self-employed, while 18% worked part time. Around 20% were in higher professional occupations compared with 14% for Oxford. We also tend to work nearby: 72% of people worked within five kilometres of their home; 18% went to work on foot, 13% by car and 6% by bike

The origins of Nelson Street?

Nelson Street takes its name from a local pub, the Lord Nelson, subsequently renamed Carpenters’ Arms—which has since been converted to housing.