By Nick Smith
This year’s shaping up to be an austere one, across the UK and at Kingston University in particular.
The River has reported thousands of students still don’t have a place to call home, crime is going up, fees are going up and I know few people whose loan came through on time if at all.
Meanwhile, with the aim of improving “the quality, range and accessibility of facilities and services available to students,” the university has been busy all summer – spending your money on a multi-million pound “bundle” of construction projects which included a new student office for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, a work-back room and a new pastoral office obviously, much needed.
Most visible among these edgy re-designs is the Penrhyn Road front entrance and lobby area.
Unfortunately, the Penrhyn Road front entrance is among the least functional re-designs in the history of re-dos or designs.
Where eager undergraduates used to grind to a halts, squeezing shoulder-to-shoulder in reluctant expressions of entry-way-bottle-neck-imposed camaraderie and disperse again once inside Kingston’s grand walls of knowledge uncomfortably close students now navigate an S-turn while encased, if only for a moment, in a cage of glass and Kingston branding.
Which, at peak traffic, must be some kind of a fire hazard. (Note to the editor: will you please find out if I am risking my life by coming to lecture?)
According to the university, the Penrhyn Road front entrance refurbishment was undertaken with the intention “that people will actually stop and use the space rather than just pass through.” Which is obviously the best possible use for our lobby. Better students use that space than, oh say, the library for instance.
Poshly-named architecture firm Pascall + (don’t think about using an ampersand) Watson were the designers brought in for this series of “improvements.”
And although the university declined to comment on the overall cost of the projects, Pascall + Watson’s website puts the value of the Penrhyn Road Campus Developments at £50k to £1.5m.
In the last few months the Arab world found a voice, the News of the World found its end, the western-world’s found trouble and we at Kingston got a series of worthless “infrastructural developments” and a 57” Samsung LCD display (retail £3,780) that’s hung blank-screened in the Penrhyn Road lobby since the start of term. (Note to the editor: will you please find out if the flat-screen in the Penrhyn Road lobby is plugged in?)
Welcome back to more of the same at Kingston University.