Univ North’s landscape architect
After 25 years of running his own practice, Kim Wilkie now works as a strategic and conceptual landscape consultant. He collaborates with architects and landscape architects around the world and combines designing with the muddy practicalities of running a small farm in Hampshire, where he is now based. Kim studied history at Oxford and landscape architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, before setting up his landscape studio in London in 1989. He continues to teach and lecture in America, writes optimistically about land and place from Hampshire, and participates in various national committees on landscape and environmental policy in the UK.
“As Oxford has stretched northwards, the fields have gradually changed from farmland to market gardens and orchards, and then to verdant suburban gardens. The old field boundaries and market garden walls can still be traced in the patterns between the houses. These memories give the land its character and guide the evolution into Univ North.
“It has been a real pleasure to work with the architect Níall McLaughlin and the Univ team to create a series of spaces that will enliven the development, encourage wildlife and fit with the existing gardens and villas. The new buildings have been designed around the spaces that they will create. 70 new trees and hundreds of metres of new native hedges will be planted to refresh the green structure of the place for the next hundred years.
“Redcliffe-Maud and Fairfield Houses remain as the historic villas of the site with their old gardens and terraces reinstated and replanted. The old orchards in the north will be brought back into health with new local apple and pear trees in meadows of spring bulbs and wildflowers. An area of sunny, south-facing allotments will be opened for students, nursery children and residents of the care home to share and enjoy. A shallow reflecting pool, flanked by iris and agapanthus, will form a contemplative centre to the site. Beyond the buildings to either side, there will be open lawns for exercise and for students to come together, chat and stretch out in the sun. The magnificent Cedars of Lebanon at the Banbury Road entrance will be given space to mature and a third cedar will be planted for the next generation. Throughout, big trees of oak, lime, beech and pine will supplement existing groupings and new focal trees such as Zelkova will provide future garden specimens.
“The master plan aims to bring out the best in the buildings and trees that have accumulated on the site and shed the accretions and muddles that have cluttered the place. The buildings respect their neighbours, reinterpreting the form and materials in a fresh, elegant way. The gardens follow the scale, simplicity and personality of the North Oxford suburbs, with great trees, relaxed orchards, generous lawns and fruit climbing up walls. All is connected by logical, instinctive pathways with the cars kept safely to the edges. Most of all, the design has created buildings and spaces that will encourage young and old to come together, gently mixing nursery school children with care home residents and students and families.”
Kim Wilkie, Landscape Architect
Proposed tree species:
Cedrus libani (Cedar of Lebanon), Malus spp (local Oxford apples), Tilia cordata (Small-leaved lime), Malus bramley (Bramley Apple), Juglans regia (English Walnut), Magnolia soulangeana, Pyrus (Pear), Luma apiculata (Chilean Myrtle), Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine), Fagus s. asplenifolia (Cut-leaf Beech), Morus nigra (Black Mulberry), Zelkova serrata (Zelkova), Fagus sylvatica (Beech), Pyrus (Pear), Bitter orange, Malus hupehensis (Crab apple), Quercus robur (Oak), Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair tree)
This feature was adapted from one first published in Issue 11 of The Martlet; read the full magazine here.
Find out more about our North Oxford development in our dedicated University College, North Oxford page.
Published: 25 June 2020