Radcliffe Observatory Quarter

The Radcliffe Observatory Quarter is one of the most significant development projects the University of Oxford has undertaken for more than a century.

The Radcliffe Observatory reflected in the glass of the Mathematical Institute
The Radcliffe Observatory reflected in the glass of the Mathematical Institute - photographer: Rob Judges

The Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) is a 10-acre plot of land in central Oxford. It lies between the Woodstock Road and Walton Street, with Somerville College to the south and Green Templeton College to the north.

The Radcliffe Infirmary was opened on the site in 1770, named after its benefactor, John Radcliffe. It was Oxford’s first hospital. In 1772 building began on the Radcliffe Observatory, which was also funded by John Radcliffe's legacy. It was the astronomical observatory of the University of Oxford from 1773 to 1934, and is now in the grounds of Green Templeton College. 

Over the centuries there have been many developments of the site. The Infirmary remained an independent hospital until the National Health Service was formed in 1948 when it became part of United Oxford Hospitals. Although the site was sold to the University of Oxford in 2003, it was leased to the National Health Service until 2007, when all the hospital’s activities were relocated to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Headington.

Following an extensive consultation process, the Masterplan for the redevelopment of the site was submitted to Oxford City Council, and work began in October 2008.

The first buildings to be completed were new student accommodation blocks for Somerville College which opened in September 2011.

Then the Jericho Health Centre relocated to New Radcliffe House on Walton Street in July 2012. This building provides the local community with modern, flexible space for three GP surgeries and their associated health care facilities. The offices above the Health Centre are used by Oxford University Press and the University’s Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.

The old Radcliffe Infirmary building, now known as Radcliffe Humanities, opened in October 2012 after refurbishment; it is occupied by the University’s Humanities divisional office, the Faculty of Philosophy and both the Philosophy and Theology libraries.

A year later, in October 2013, the Mathematical Institute was formally opened.

The Blavatnik School of Government is currently under construction in the south west corner of the site, opposite Oxford University Press. It is scheduled to open in September 2015.