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Listing bid submitted for Grimshaw's Oxford Ice Rink

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Historic England is drafting a report on Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners’ Oxford Ice Rink in response to a request that it should be listed

The heritage watchdog confirmed it had received a listing request from a private individual earlier this year.

The building was designed by the practice for Oxford City Council on a tight budget, opening in 1984.

Writing in Architects Journal in 2002, architectural commentator Martin Pawley said: ‘It was unorthodox in appearance, one of the first generation of mast-supported and long span structures to exploit the corrosion-resistant coatings developed for offshore structures in the North Sea, but it was also very cheap.’

The building consists of a pair of rectangular box sections held up by a spine beam hung from two 30 metre masts at either end of the building.

It is clad with glass-reinforced concrete while the entire north wall is glazed, offering views directly into the rink.

In 1995, Grimshaw wrote: ‘The building is a social centre for all ages and we have heard from the city engineer that vandalism has reduced dramatically in the city since this project was completed.’

It underwent a refurbishment in 2012 after becoming run down during the intervening years.

The rink falls within the area covered by a masterplan for the Oxpens area of the city completed for the council by David Lock Associates in 2012.

The masterplan allows for both the retention of the rink or its replacement by retirement homes.


Nicholas Grimshaw, founder Grimshaw Architects:
‘I am delighted that Oxford Ice Rink is being considered for listing. Throughout the 30 years it has been open the building has always been popular with the local community.

‘It was truly utilitarian at the time, with the dramatic structure and huge glazed facade providing the main architectural experience.

‘The cost was brought down by using off the peg cold store panels and the simplicity of the building has always been a cause for celebration.’

Clare Price, conservation adviser, Twentieth Century Society:
‘One of Nicholas Grimshaw’s first major commissions after leaving his partnership with Terry Farrell, the Oxford Ice rink is an innovatory ship-like building which floats on the water meadows on the outskirts of Oxford City Centre.

‘An early use of the pared-down industrial ethic, the style and structure aptly fits the building’s location and displays the Grimshaw’s skill at producing effective design on a small budget and a constrained site.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Let's hope that if its retirement housing that it is not an isolated age-specific ghetto. There are mountains of clinical evidence that demonstrate the benefits of 'retirement" housing being fully integrated with demographically and economically diverse neighborhoods where the business and enterprises of everyday life take place.

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