The St Cross Building, St Cross Road, Oxford 1964

with Colin St John Wilson and Patrick Hodgkinson

Martin subscribed to Le Corbusier’s belief that “the plan is the generator [of form]”, and the form of the building is determined by the internal arrangement of differently sized boxes – placed at different levels and ingeniously interlocking with one another.  The resulting agglomeration of massive cubic blocks is clad in buff brick – chosen, though this is not very apparent to the observer, to harmonize with the stone of the adjacentHolywell Manor and St Cross Church – and broken up by long strips of plate glass windows in metal frames: a favourite Corbusian mannerism.  The most striking feature, though, is the monumental staircase, leading from St Cross Road to the English and Law Libraries on the top floor, and conjuring up subliminal images of the Odessa steps in Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin – a film much admired in the 1960s.

Geoffrey Tyack’s Oxford: An Architectural Guide (1998)P1200576-470x353