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Massie wins planning for Oxford competition-winner - images

Graeme Massie Architects has secured planning approval for the ambitious redevelopment of Bonn Square at the core of Oxford's historic city centre.

The news comes exactly 12 months after the practice won a hotly contested international RIBA competition to redesign the plaza. (AJ 13.06.05).

Bonn Square, one of Oxford's few public spaces, is blighted by high levels of crime and anti-social behaviour. It falls inside the boundary of the Oxford Central Conservation Area and contains a plethora of listed buildings.

According to Massie, the square's fragmented layout, lack of natural surveillance and neglected appearance make it a focus for criminal and anti-social behaviour.

Massie says his 'radical reinterpretation' aims to achieve a 'material dialogue with the fabric of Oxford' by arranging 'sawn and split faces in different configurations'.

He added: 'To achieve spatial clarity and improve permeability, a continuous, taut sandstone surface is folded over the extent of the square, encompassing and retaining in-situ the archaeological remains of a Georgian church and its cemetery.

'Beneath a grove of trees the surface is further elaborated with black Caithness flagstone setts arranged in a random configuration giving the impression of dappled shadows.

'The use of tone, modulation and varying textures will lead to an expressive surface, which, over time, will wear, providing a trace of people's movements through the square, in a similar manner to that encountered in the old stone stairs of the university colleges.'

Work on the Bonn Square refit is scheduled to start on site in 2008.

by Clive Walker

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