The winner of the competition to design Oxford’s new Swift Tower has been announced after a public vote.
The University will now build Jonathan Wheeler’s design in the University Parks, subject to consultation and planning permission. The design echoes the birds’ distinctive shape, and will provide space for dozens of swifts to raise young in. ‘I’m delighted to have won the competition,’ Jonathan said. ‘I tried to convey the sweeping, curving shape of swifts in my design and hope it will be a pleasing sculptural form in the Parks as well as a safe haven for swifts in the city.’ ‘It will be wonderful to see a swift tower in the University Parks,’ added Harriet Waters, the University’s Head of Environmental Sustainability. ‘With swifts nesting in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History tower and swift boxes being installed on University buildings, we are very keen to be involved with this great project to make Oxford a swift city.’ Launched in May, the competition is part of the two-year Oxford: Swift City project, led by the RSPB and supported by a range of organisations including the University, Oxford City Council and the Museum of Natural History. Funding came from the National Lottery Fund.
Swifts are among the UK’s best-loved birds, but they are under threat from the destruction of suitable nesting sites – building renovations often block the small holes under eaves that they need to find a place to rear young. The Swift City project aims to help them by creating new nesting spots to replace those that have vanished.
The other shortlisted designs came from Thurston Tallack and Judith Godsland. All competition entries will be on display in the Town Hall from 13 November 2017 to 2 January 2018. There will be a public consultation on the proposed Swift Tower at the Keble Gate from Parks Road into the University Parks on 31 August, from 9am to 8pm - please come along if you want to discuss any aspect of the project with a member of the team.