Location: Oxford, UK
Date: 2012
Client: Land Securities / Crown Estate
Status: Invited competition
Size: 12,550 sqm
Credits: ACME (Mark Broom, Monica Capitanio, Dave Edwards, Lovisa Lindström, Friedrich Ludewig, Isabel de la Mora, Iria de la Pena, David Rieser)
Oxford is a place of visual discovery. Quadrangles have been one of the most emblematic spaces within Oxford colleges and the city. Enclosed spaces behind gates offer partial views, rather then direct visibility. Important urban institutions are often hidden behind large entrances and enclosures, to be revealed behind corners and vistas.
The new John Lewis Department Store is located at the edge of the conservation area, and will form the visually hidden anchor to a larger development of the Westgate area.
The massing and architectural treatment of the building have been evolved in response to the formal language enshrined in Oxford Colleges and Libraries since the 14th century. Oxford is a city of vertical emphasis, of spires and strongly sculpted stone façades, and this has been reinterpreted for the John Lewis store in a number of scales. The horizontal massing of the building has been reduced by stepping the corners, and the elevations have used the verticality of the Bodleian Library as a departure point that gets slowly modified and subverted as it extends around the building. The roofscape is structured through a sequence of pitches enclosing a rooftop restaurant with a load bearing timber lattice structure.