The new term has marked the completion of the rebuild of the Students’ Union building, including the opening of four new food outlets, new spaces for societies and a pool room.
The £11 million redevelopment, that began in May 2008, was, after many unforeseen delays, opened at the beginning of the second term, with the official Launch Event taking place on Friday week 1 (15th January).
The new building sees the introduction of four new food and drink spaces, including the return of “The Bread Oven”, which provides a daily selection of sandwiches and baguettes during lunchtime.
Also opening are “The Terrace Bar”, offering coffee and cocktails in a contemporary setting overlooking the Piazza, and “King Edward’s Potato Emporium”, another lunchtime addition, while the new vintage tea shop “Curiositea” presents students with a range of pastries, sweets and cakes in a stylish environment.
The Atrium, a large spacious area with tables and benches, offers a place to socialise, while the “Dirty Duck Snug” has been added to the original social space, with televisions to watch live sports.
Students have praised the new Union, with many remarking on the stylish and spacious atmosphere of the building.
“The variety and vibrancy of the Union make the rebuild so worthwhile,” said Anna Grieves, who studies Law and French, “It’s lovely having a fantastic bar in a convenient place to go to with friends, and we can’t wait to try some of the tempting treats in Curiositea!”
Michaela Bruntraeger, a first year Biomedical Science student, commented on the comfort and convenience of the new outlets, saying that “the Dirty Duck Snug has provided a great place to sit with friends and watch the sports together. Overall, the building is a wonderfully modern and exciting addition to the university.”
“It’s good that now you don’t have to queue outside in the rain” said Isobel Benton-Slim, a first year sociology student, and the extra “Terrace Bar makes getting a drink a lot quicker”.
Isaac Newton Acquah, Students’ Union Communications Officer, remarked on the importance of the new building in enhancing the experience of students whilst they are at university, explaining that “the rebuild has been done to make sure that we have a building fit for students’ needs in a modern setting.”
“Along with the building come the different outlets and we really feel that now the SU offers everything a student needs for food and drink. The new building is really now the Heart of Campus!”
According to the SU, the rebuild was much needed as the previous facilities were outdated. After talking to students, it was decided that many of the old Union’s facilities were considered redundant, with the Union itself lacking any obvious entrance or communal spaces, and requiring places to go for a quiet drink and a greener outlook.
However, not all students see this as an improvement on the old union. Emma Mingers, a first year Philosophy and Psychology student finds the Atrium “quite bare” suggesting “they could make better use of this space”
A third year Physics student said “It’s fine, but it’s quite empty, somewhat soulless; the walls are quite empty”.
Much of the construction had been finished over the summer break in 2009, with the Copper Rooms and the Dirty Duck completed in time for September, and the new wave of first years.
The delays met throughout the project, according to Andrew Bradley, President of the Student Union, “arose from the fact that the original 1970s building was hugely complex and that the records they kept at the time were not as detailed as modern standards, specifically of the drainage system underneath the building and the electrics inside it.
In addition, as the brief was to take the building as it was and remodel and redesign it, this project was probably one of the most complicated building projects the University or the contractors had ever taken on. That said, similar problems were encountered with the renovation of the Butterworth Hall. Finally, again out of our control, was the weather which caused delays”.
He added “I very much hope that everyone will agree with me that it was worth the wait – from the student reaction this week, I think everybody’s really excited to have such an airy, light and spacious Atrium which will be very versatile as well as all the tasty new outlets in the new building!”.