I recently found this book full of the designs and plans for Oxford colleges which were never actually built. It’s like hypothetical architecture, an idea of the city as people imagined it.

Here’s an early concept sketch of the Radcliffe Camera, with an unusual square base.


Howard Colvin is quite reproachful of the final design.

The Radcliffe Library is one of Oxford’s most conspicuous architectural ornaments. It is not, however, one of Oxford’s most convenient libraries, nor … can there have been many libraries in which the number of books housed is so small in proportion to the total cubic area: in fact it would be difficult to find an Oxford building in whose design purely aesthetic considerations have been less constrained by those of cost or utility.

There are some drawings for a rebuild of Balliol college on Broad Street.


The idea was to knock through what is currently the Masters Lodgings, and replace it with a minimalist boxy structure. It’s not too different from what Jesus College are currently doing already did to Northgate House.

Here’s the plan for the ‘University Museum’, what is now the Natural History Museum.


There are also some pretty ambitious designs towards the end.
Here’s what the Pitt-Rivers museum was going to look like, from a model built in 1968.


At least with that glass dome it would have had more natural light than it does now…

And saving the best for last, there was this plan in 1961 to build a huge tower for the zoology department in University Parks.


I’m really busy at the moment, but stumbling across this book was a nice distraction.