It is the biggest construction boom since the Middle Ages
IN HIS book “Notes from a Small Island”, Bill Bryson, an American author, took exception to some of Oxford's 20th-century architecture. It is, he wrote, as though the city had said to itself, “We've been putting up handsome buildings since 1264; let's have an ugly one for a change.”
Much of Oxford is beautiful. A quarter of the university is listed. Some buildings date back to 1424. But in the 1960s planners added ugly shopping centres, offices and even college buildings that drain the beauty from the city centre. Now a building programme is under way that aims to avoid such errors, and even reverse a few.
Some of the construction is driven by the need to upgrade facilities in order to keep Oxford globally competitive. In 2014 it was ranked Britain's top research university, yet some departments are still housed in converted Victorian houses. Post-war buildings in the Science Area have been demolished. Their replacements will encourage inter-disciplinary work. There is a push, too, for links with business, as pioneered by Oxford's old rival, Cambridge, where builders have also been busy. One new hub outside Oxford city centre, the Bio Escalator, promotes commercial research in life sciences alongside academia; another, the Innovation Accelerator, focuses on advanced engineering.
有些建筑之所以修建，是为了更新设施以保证牛津大学在全球的竞争力。在2014年，尽管它有些部门还在维多利亚时代的屋子中办公，它还是英国最顶尖的研究型大学。战后科学区修建的建筑已经拆掉了。继而修建的建筑将促进跨学科研究的发展。将之与商业联系在一起也是有推力的，牛津的老对手剑桥早就开始这么做了，剑桥的建筑修建活动也在热火朝天地进行。位于牛津城市中心之外的一个新实验中心，Bio Escalator，加强了生命科学的学术研究的同时也加强了其商业研究;另外，Innovation Accelerator则将注意力集中在先进引擎技术上。
Other buildings are being renovated. On March 21st the Weston Library (formerly the New Bodleian) opened to the public. In September a shiny new China Centre opened in the grounds of St Hugh's College. Construction is about to begin on the Beecroft physics building. The boldest newcomer, located next to the new Mathematical Institute, will be the Blavatnik School of Government (pictured), a glass-and-metal spaceship designed by the architects responsible for the “bird's nest” Olympic stadium in Beijing.
Private funding has been crucial, the names on the buildings reflecting those following in the footsteps of Balliol, Bodley and Wadham—from Ukrainian businessmen to British financiers. The university plans to spend another 1.8 billion (2.7 billion) over the next decade, says William James, the pro-vice chancellor for planning. He hints at bigger projects to come.
私人募捐变得十分关键。建筑上的名字如Balliol、, Bodley 、Wadham反映了从乌克兰生意人到不列颠金融家的脚步。牛津大学计划在下一个十年花费18亿英镑(27亿美金)，该计划前副经理William James说。他暗示未来将有更大的项目。
Oxford City Council is building, too, redeveloping Oxpens, a down-at-heel area near the railway station, into homes and offices. It has demolished the monstrous Westgate car park to make way for a 500 million shopping centre. The railway station is getting a 200m refit, with plans for a “continental boulevard” outside to greet some of the 9.5m tourists who arrive in Oxford each year. A second railway station is under construction in the north of the city. Separately, an old branch line that links to the Mini factory in Cowley should open for passengers by 2020.
Yet if all this makes Oxford more attractive, it will accentuate another problem. Many people want to live or study there. Commuting to London is rising. Hedge funds are setting up in the city centre. The number of graduate students has doubled (to 10,000) since 2001. And yet the green belt around the city does not permit Oxford to expand, driving house prices higher than anywhere in the country, proportional to income. Local opposition to a development of badly needed graduate student accommodation near Port Meadow, a beauty spot, has led to the biggest town-gown bust-up in years.
Oxford has many articulate, conservation-minded residents. It is surrounded by pretty countryside and hemmed in by decades-old planning regulations. Its building boom is impressive. But growth will always be uncomfortable.