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CABE still concerned over Viñoly's Oxford vision

Design watchdog still suggests major rethink on original Rafael Viñoly masterplan

CABE has reaffirmed its misgivings over Rafael Viñoly’s competition-winning Radcliffe Infirmary masterplan for Oxford University.

Commenting on a document drawn up independently by planning consultant, Turnberry Consulting, the government’s design watchdog claimed the document did little to improve upon Viñoly's original £500 million masterplan, which CABE still has concerns over.

It is understood that the original scheme for the 4.25ha city-centre plot – won in 2005 ahead of the likes of Hopkins – had already been ‘radically revised’.

However, the alterations to the plans, which were submitted for planning last month, have not stopped CABE branding the proposals ‘a wholly inadequate framework for development’.

The commission’s design review report reads: ‘We urge the university to employ a new design hand that makes a break from the tested scheme by Rafael Viñoly Architects.

‘The masterplan should provide a more compelling vision for the re-development of the site which reflects its context and which is flexible enough to accommodate the university’s funding model.’

It concludes: ‘In our view, this masterplan proposal not only fails to show a considered understanding of context, but also fails to provide a flexible framework for change that satisfies the long-term needs of the university or the city.’

In a statement from Viñoly's office, the practice says it was unaware that Oxford Council had asked CABE to review the new document and that it was 'not intended for a review'.

Rafael Viñoly Architects said: 'The review was of a planning document produced by the planning consultants, not Rafael Viñoly Architects.

'This document was not intended for a CABE design review. Rafael Viñoly Architects presented the masterplan to CABE in early 2008.

'It is due to go to committee shortly and has a recommendation for approval by the planning officers.'

CABE maintains that the local authority should not endorse the masterplan.

Read the design report here.

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