ART imitates life in the winning design for a new 'swift tower' to be built at Oxford’s University Parks.

A public vote selected Jonathan Wheeler’s imaginative entry for the structure, which will house nests to try to halt the decline of the bird in Oxford.

He said: “I tried to convey the sweeping, curving shape of swifts in my design and hope it will be a pleasing sculptural form in the park as well as a safe haven for swifts in the city.”

The tower will be built by Oxford University in the University Parks, subject to approval and consultation.

Mr Wheeler, who is from Lower Radley, near Abingdon, said: “I will be excited to see my sketchbook ideas come to life in steel and I hope birds and wildlife enjoy living there as much as I enjoyed designing it. I’m very grateful to everyone who voted for my design.”

The competition was launched on May 6, with a panel of judges selecting a shortlist before the public was asked to cast their votes for the design they would most like to see built.

A swift tower is a free-standing structure, with boxes for swifts to build their nests in. As traditional nesting sites in buildings are being lost, it has become increasingly important to replace them to help stop the decline of swifts.

Designs submitted by Thurston Tallack and Judith Godsland, both from Oxford, were also included in the judges’ shortlist.

Lucy Hyde, Oxford Swift City project officer, said: “The judges would like to commend all the competition entrants for their creativity and innovation, which made selecting a shortlist a very challenging task.

“Jonathan Wheeler’s design is not only going to help Oxford’s swifts by providing lots of new nesting sites, but will also be an incredible piece of public art.

“We love that the design was chosen by the public, who have really embraced the Oxford Swift City project and everything we’re trying to do to help these incredible birds to thrive in our city.”

Harriet Waters, Oxford University’s head of environmental sustainability, added: “It will be wonderful to see a swift tower in the University Parks.

“With swifts nesting in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History tower and swift boxes being installed on University buildings, we are very keen to be involved with this great project to make Oxford a swift city.”

The competition was part of Oxford Swift City, a two-year project to improve the outlook for swifts in Oxford, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

All entries to the competition will be on display at a public exhibition at The Gallery in Oxford Town Hall from November 13 to January 2.