OXO Tower

Category: Art

The OXO Tower is a building with a prominent tower on the south bank of the River Thames in London, in the London Borough of Southwark. The building currently has a set of bijou arts and crafts shops on the ground and first floors, and a well-known restaurant on the 8th (at the top of the tower).

The original building was a power station, but in the 1920s it was acquired by the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, manufacturers of Oxo beef stock cubes. The building was largely rebuilt to an Art Deco design by company architect Albert Moore. Liebig wanted to include a tower featuring illuminated signs advertising the name of their product. When permission for the advertisements was refused the tower was built with four sets of three vertically-aligned windows, each of which “coincidentally” happened to be in the shapes of a circle, a cross and a circle. Liebig and the building were eventually purchased by the Vestey Group.

In the late 1970s and into the 1980s there were several proposals to demolish the building and develop it and the adjacent Coin Street site, but these were met with strong local opposition and two planning inquiries were held. Although permission for redevelopment was granted, the support of the Greater London Council finally resulted in the tower and adjoining land being sold to the GLC in 1984 for 2.7 million pounds — who controversially sold the entire 13 acre (53,000 m²) site to the not-for-profit Coin Street Community Builders for just £750,000. In the 1990s the tower was refurbished to a design by Liftschutz Davidson to include housing, a restaurant, shops and exhibition space. The tower won the Royal Fine Art Commission / BSkyB Building of the Year Award for Urban Regeneration in 1997.


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OXO Tower