THE beauty of Oxford’s architecture is celebrated around the world. But vigilance is required to maintain the city’s unique streetscapes, historic fabric and natural corners, and to ensure any new additions enhance and improve the environment.

It is a mission which the Oxford Preservation Trust, as watchdog for the city’s heritage, has embraced with zeal.

The city has been tarnished with some hideous eyesores over the years, but the trust is intent on doing all it can to protect the best of our urban heritage and natural environment while celebrating good design.

Every year the trust presents awards to the best new design projects, celebrating the positive contribution that high quality building and environmental projects can make to Oxford’s streets, quads and green spaces.

This week, despite the obvious challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, it unveiled its 43rd round of annual awards which praise exceptional new buildings, conservation schemes and temporary projects.

Winners were chosen from a long list of 45 entries and included projects at All Souls, Keble and Wolfson colleges, renovated farm buildings, a bookbinders in Yarnton, student accommodation on the site of a car salesroom, and a footpath in Kennington.

Trust director Debbie Dance said: “While it may not be quite business as usual, nothing was going to stop OPT from hosting our awards.

“We spoke to our sponsors, who were amazing in staying with us, invited everyone to submit, gathered the entries, and then managed to visit them all last autumn as the restrictions allowed.”

The awards saw eight plaques and 15 certificates awarded, together with a new Green Award presented by Oxford city councillor Tom Hayes, which went to Wadham College’s Dorothy Wadham Building on Iffley Road, which was recognised for its attractive and sustainable design.

Plaque Winners

Building Conservation:

  • All Souls College: For an “amazing job” restoring and cleaning the stonework which stretches along the High, described by Pevsner as ‘one of the world’s great streets’.
  • Oxford Mail:
  • Brasenose Farm, Shotover: Abandoned buildings with links to William Morris, have been transformed, creating “a perfect blend of old and new, with thought given to the adjoining allotments and park.” It was described as “a real triumph and a treat to behold”.
  • Oxford Mail:
  • Keble College: For bringing “the architecture, the colours and the intricate brickwork to life, so that it can now brighten up this part of Parks Road where once the gloom descended. A real example of how Oxford's buildings can contribute to our enjoyment of Oxford's streets.”
  • Oxford Mail:
  • St Mary the Virgin, Iffley: For “stunningly beautiful” restoration work and limewashing which when blended with the stonework “appear to glow in the sunlight”.
  • Oxford Mail:

New Buildings:

Temple Bookbinders, Yarnton: For “a remarkable job of creating state of the art space within the confines of this 16th farm buildings and yard”.

Oxford Mail:

The Dorothy Wadham Building, Iffley Road: The trust says: “What’s not to like about these wonderful new buildings, which took an ugly garage showroom and repair place, maximised the use of the space, thought about the context, engaged with the local community, and created a great new building. It respects the character of the neighbourhood and gives the students a great place to live.”

Small Project:

  • The Buttery and Old Porter’s Lodge, Wolfson College: Judges praised the quality of light and improvements in keeping with the architectural feel of the college.
  • Oxford Mail:

Landscape & Public Realm:

  • Kennington Meadows Path: For improvements to the Sustrans track which runs from Abingdon to Oxford.
  • Oxford Mail:

Green Award:

  • The Dorothy Wadham Building: Judges said it had a clear agenda for sustainable design, built to a green specification, energy efficient, environmentally responsive, and built to last while adding to the neighbourhood.” They said: “Great all round”.
  • Oxford Mail:

Certificate Winners

  • Building Conservation: Mixed-use development: 120-122 High Street, Oxford for Lincoln College; Belsyre Court Refurbishment; Dyson Perrins Laboratory cleaning, repainting, and repairs; St. Mary Magdalen roof repair, cleaning, decoration, and lighting project; The Harcourt Arms, Stanton Harcourt; The Jam Factory, Oxford
  • New Buildings: Catherine Hughes Building; H B Allen Centre.
  • Small Projects: Rediscovering Waterhouse in the Master’s Lodgings, Balliol College; secondary glazing of the historic college library and three north facing ground floor rooms of Harris Manchester College; Law Centre building refurbishment
  • Landscape and Public Realm: Barton Community Mural; Wheatley Heritage Trail.
  • Temporary Projects: ICON; Talking Maps.