21 March 2021

Iconic Swindon Structures
Controversy ranges in Swindon as I bash out this blog, around the Oasis Pleasure Dome. A term bandied about around this leisure centre is ‘iconic’. Thus I thought I’d have a look at the term – what it means – and what it means to Swindon.

Iconic Swindon Structures and Buildings - graphic of the oasis

So, iconic design then is something recognisable and memorable.
Thus, it’s irrefutable that The Oasis, warrants the description.

Council Meeting Accepts Oasis Motion - The Oasis dome from above - Save Oasis Campaign Seeks Sustainable Solutions
The Oasis by Stuart Harrison Photography



Other iconic Swindon structures

The Oasis though is far from the only building in Swindon deserving of the iconic moniker.

When it comes to memorable and recognisable and landmark we have, in no particular order, the Magic Roundabout, the Art Deco bowl in Town Gardens, the David Murray John Tower and the diving platform at Coate Water. You could even include The Spectrum Building in that.

The Oasis controversy

Okay – it’s a complex situation, with many ins and outs that I’m not going into it all here – it’s not the place. But I do have to mention something that has incurred the wrath of many, including me – for all manner of reasons. Namely this:

CGI of proposed Oasis replacement.

Aside from the fact that this CGI shoved out at the start of this week resembles a gasometer – and that’s bad enough – it misses two important points.

1. The Oasis and the dome are synonymous – and the ‘iconic’ part of the whole thing is its very form: the dome.

2. The term Oasis means: ‘a fertile spot in a desert where you find water.’

All elements of the Oasis combined to meet the description of a fertile spot in a desert where you find water. The desert part being the urban sprawl in which it sits.

So, the much-loved dome let sunshine stream in and blue skies canopy bathers, giving them a sense of being outside. And all this decades before Center Parcs came our way.

Aside from the dome itself, what made the eponymous leisure pool so famous and so worthy of its name was the carefully planned, tropical themed interior – right down to real banana plants. It all combined to create a totally tropical paradise experience.

Accessibility factors

The other factor making this pool special is its accessibility. This is a super important point that’s being overlooked I fear.

The Oasis, in its current form, is the only leisure/fun pool for MILES – the nearest being Bracknell. It’s also the only fully accessible facility for children and those with mobility issues.

Its lagoon shape, that you can simply walk into as you’d walk into the sea itself, is perfect for families and the less mobile. There is nothing else like it in Swindon – or for miles around.


My ire

So why am I so irked? Aside from suffering from SBC CGI overload that is? *heaves heavy sigh*

Well, the image above shows what may well be a perfectly fine leisure centre. I‘m cynical about that – but let’s, for the sake of argument, assume it does.

It still misses the iconic point by a wide margin. It also misses ‘The Oasis’ point. Which is of course … the tropical part.

What that image shows is not refurbishing ‘an iconic leisure venue that has brought joy to residents and visitors for four decades’. 

There’s nothing iconic about it – and, unless it intends to recreate the tropical theme, there’s nothing oasis about it either. Thus, unless this new plan incorporates that tropical theme, at the very least, it’s not even the Oasis Mark II. What it is, in fact, is The North Star leisure centre.

So this is, aside from all the other stuff going on, a disingenuous at best and at worst … plain dishonest, misrepresentation. It purports to be a restoration when in fact it’s raze-it-and-start-all-over-again!

I’d have more respect for it and SBC if they weren’t making this out to be something it’s not. Do they think we won’t notice? Surely not? That would be both arrogant and insulting …


See also: https://swindonian.me/2021/03/18/a-response-to-cllr-renards-swindon-advertiser/