Art in Headington

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Rain Pavilion, Oxford Brookes University (2015)

Rain pavilion

The Rain Pavilion is located on the piazza leading up to the John Henry Brookes Building, and comprises steel, leaf-like structures stemming from a timber pool at the base.

The sculpture is illuminated at night, and initially there was a rain shower for a few minutes every hour during the day, but because of maintenance issues with the basin that collects the water this has been turned off. It is planned to replace the basin with pebble-filled gabion baskets (see new planning application below). .

Architecture students Alexandra Horsman and Charlotte Birch won a student design competition, and their idea was developed by a team of staff and students from the School of Architecture and the School of Arts at Oxford Brookes University.

Policy CP14 of the Oxford Local Plan 2001–2016 sought the provision of public art in association with major development, and this sculpture fulfils a condition of the planning permission granted to Brookes in 2010 for to erect a new library and teaching building, plus a linked extension to the Abercrombie Building and an arcaded building to a new entrance piazza to the Headington Road (09/02764/FUL). The decision letter clarifies the definition of public art:

To avoid doubt public art shall mean works of adornment or decoration to the development or its surroundings, whether freestanding or otherwise, which can be viewed and enjoyed by the public at large, other than hard or soft landscaping measures.

The initial planning permission for the rain pavilion obtained by Brookes was temporary, lasting three years, and this expired on 8 July 2018, when under Condition 4 it should have been removed:

  • Temporary planning application approved on 3 July 2015: 15/01324/FUL
  • Details submitted in compliance with condition 28 (Public Art Strategy) approved on 16 April 2014: 09/02764/CND5

In November 2018 Brookes was granted planning permission to upgrade the base from short-life materials (which will enable the hourly rain shower to return) and to make the sculpture permanent:

  • Approved planning application approved on 20 November 2018: 18/02411/FUL

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© Stephanie Jenkins


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