Northgate Oxford


Visualisation by MICA Architects for new shop fronts and university accommodation on Oxford's Cornmarket.

New shop fronts are being developed in part of Oxford's shopping street - Cornmarket - as a result of the University's Jesus College, remodelling its Northgate buildings (above) and street frontage.

Cornmarket is a jumble of historical styles, having a Saxon church at one end, a 14th century timber framed building, completed in 1386 as the New Inn and a collection of 18th and 19th century building and modern day shop fronts. In 2002, it was voted Britain's second worst street in a poll of listeners to Radio Four's the Today programme, due to the paving of the street into a pedestrianised zone.

The city has felt the effects of the enormous changes in retail due to online shopping and customer demands. Recently the £500 million project partnership between the Crown Estate, Land Securities and the two Oxford councils has seen the rebirth of the tired 1960's Westgate Centre to the South of Cornmarket, including luxury shops and a large John Lewis store.

In Cornmarket, the retail premises owned by Jesus College, Oxford, will be divided into smaller shop fronts, to take account of new retail ideas, behind and above which the college will provide for new student accommodation, a knowledge exchange, modern gate-house and a tower room for college dining or arts events, with a window framing a view of one of the most famous libraries in England, the Radcliffe Camera.

The college is trying to become more 'open' and 'welcoming' and has adopted MICA Architects' master-plan and designs, in the project called 'Northgate', both improving mixed use of academic facilities with student accommodation and retail in Cornmarket and Market Street.

Watch our video interview below with MICA Director Stuart Cade, who spoke about the College's new approach that led to the designs.

The college's back on Market Street will be transformed into a positive front, in order to connect better with the surrounding streets and opening up an improved approach. The new college gatehouse will facilitate outreach and access, making Jesus more accessible both physically and virtually. Views through to academic spaces, the new Digital Hub and Fellows Garden, will allow increased interaction with the city.

On Cornmarket Street, retail provision will be on the ground and first floor with residential accommodation above. The corner of the new building itself is marked with a larger window into the café/event space within the college.

Jesus College was founded in 1571 under the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, making it the only Elizabethan College within the University of Oxford. MICA undertook historic research as well as reviewing the setting and future-proofing, with the aim of allowing for another 400 years of adaptation and change.

Working in conjunction with the College's Strategic Plan for 2017 - 2021, MICA has been developing designs that meet the College's ambitious targets for expanding and enhancing the core academic priorities and purpose of the College. A strategic master plan for the College was followed by concept work for key new developments, spaces and landscape designs.

MICA is an award winning practice based in London, Oxford and Edinburgh, working at all scales and levels, from a regional urban and landscape level to individual buildings, interiors and the furniture and equipment for living.

Visualisation for re-modelled Jesus College buildings in Market Street Oxford - looking North to Cornmarket (MICA Architects)

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