OXFORD’S architecture has been put under the spotlight in recent months.

In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, fresh calls were made for Cecil Rhodes statue above Oriel College to go after claims he was a racist. 

During lockdown photographers also took to the streets to document eerily quiet tourist spots and the empty city gave residents the chance to take in the views in a fresh light.

But have you ever looked up at the Westgate Centre and wondered what the glass chimney-like feature is above the library?

Oxford Mail:

The 'lantern', a commissioned piece of artwork, was installed on top of the £440m Westgate Shopping Centre development in May 2017, just months before the building reopened in October.

It’s four-meters high, stainless steel, and has 78 glass panes in nine different shades.

In plans to Oxford City Council in November 2015, designers said it would be ‘sensitively’ integrated into the skyline and would become a ‘landmark of the Westgate Centre’.

It was designed by Daniela Schönbächler who took inspiration from a window at All Souls’ College.

The design team said it was also based on the work of Roger Bacon ‘in terms of optics and light refraction’.

Oxford Mail:

They also wrote in the design plans: “The feature would serve as a mark of the importance of the location of the edge of Bonn Square – both as a wayfinder within the city and as an indication of the presence of an important new retail and leisure facility.”

The Westgate Centre has won a top design award in recent years for its ‘warm, natural materials and finishes’.

In a poll of 115 readers, 62 per cent said they didn’t think the Westgate deserved an award.

Oxford Mail:

At the time,  Peter Thompson of Oxford Civic Society said the Oxpens facade ‘looked like a prison’.