Westgate, Oxford

 

Client: Land Securities & The Crown Estate

Collaborators: BDP, Gillespies, Fitch, Modus Operandi, Laing O’Rouke, Chapman Taylor, Ascott Signs & IS Group

Project Cost: £440m

Area: 76,000m2

Timing: 2014 - 2018

 

Westgate encapsulates all the ambitions and challenges of modern urban redevelopment.

Sited at the location of the city’s medieval gate, the project creates a new type of urban fabric that bridges the need for economic vitality with a city core that is

diverse and steeped in heritage. The Oxford masterplan created a new retail destination anchored by John Lewis, 125 new shops, cinema and a panoramic F&B roof terrace. Westgate takes the form not of a singular destination but a network of open-air urban spaces knitted together through lanes, arcades and public squares. The space melts into both the urban fabric and diverse lifestyle of Oxford.

 

FRA were commissioned to provide full wayfinding services from strategy through to delivery. Collaborating with a wide network of stakeholders, we developed a deep understanding of the needs of the users in this new type of space and crafted a system of wayfinding solutions to enhance their experience at every step.

 

FRA have created a design language that combines traditional urban street furniture and design-forward retail trends, with civic features such as the site’s public library. Our solutions helped to transform a complicated series of horizontal and vertical connections between the site’s various nodes, car park and public transport links into a legible and enjoyable experience that make sense in the context of the city.

 

Our collaborative approach was evident throughout the project; helping guide the scheme through sensitive planning negotiations, extensive prototyping and providing ‘last-man-out’ project management services to ensure the design was delivered even after the main project management team was off-site.

The brand values, guiding principles and Oxford’s vibrant tone of voice has been encapsulated in the wayfinding system design. The signage product design is elegant, timeless and restrained - with a hint of playfulness. Materials like liquid metal coatings bring the warmth of copper and bronze which compliments the

architectural palette.