14th November 2021
Oasis Refurb Plans Almost Welcome
Before I go any further let me stress that what follows is NOT an official Save Oasis Swindon campaign response to SevenCapital’s (7C) recent press release.
It’s notable that this 7C planning application leaves out more than it keeps in. These plans comprise a significant reduction in the Oasis’ leisure footprint and its satellite outdoor facilities e.g. cycle race track, skateboard park and four football cages. All set in extensive grass parkland. Then there is the loss of the Oasis dry-side. That sounds a death knell to the large, multi-use sports hall and the international music venue.
We all know, and I’m sure SOS understands this too, that the 70s and 80s were arguably the high point of local authorities providing exemplary and extensive leisure facilities. But, I ask you to consider:
Is this the best that Swindon can expect?’ It’s certainly not the best it deserves.
Swindon Borough Council have a golden opportunity here to do something special for Swindon. As opposed to a reduced facility to free up more land for houses.
The word in the ether is …
It’s clear from the masses of Adver and social media responses from the local and national public, that there remains a gargantuan drive for a reopened Oasis. And further that many, many questions remain unanswered in the Oasis story.
One significant, and emotive, issue is 7C’s plans to demolish the iconic Oasis Dome. 7C has gone to some effort in its plans to replace the dome with a difficult to envisage drum-shaped, see-thru, eco roof.
The great irony here being that demolishing the dome will do incalculable damage to the environment, releasing as it will, vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Nothing green about that.
Demolishing the dome – aside from it being an act of cultural vandalism and all the bloody rest of it – will make SBC’s Be the Change campaign an UTTER, UTTER, UTTER joke.
The greenest building is the existing building
Seen on Twitter today from the Twentieth Century Society – and the article they refer to here.
See also in the Financial Times on the very same issue.
NOTE: Every effort should be made not to demolish …and there is the history recorded in the traces of use of decades in the fabric – itself an architectural medium, it’s strata embodying an archeology of living. **
** But hey – what matter the environment and people’s memories when there’s cold, hard cash at stake? What we have people are a Council and a global development body that are the living embodiment of Oscar Wilde’s famous words about understanding the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
Here’s a challenge to SevenCapital, Swindon Borough Council and eco designers and architects worldwide: to design a feasible, eco-iconic dome – whether re-furbished or new.
Why would you destroy something wonderful and now unique, when you can do something special and ground-breaking and reputation-enhancing?
More questions than answers
It’s irksome that several questions around the Oasis story remain unanswered in anything like a satisfactory fashion. For instance:
1. Were all avenues fully explored back in 2012 when SBC outsourced the Oasis to the private sector (Morai Ltd) without any monitoring, standards or take-back clause?
2. Did GLL/Better Swindon put enough effort and business acumen into their x year tenure of operating the Oasis? Or is that the non-clause chicken coming home to roost for what was the final nail in the Oasis coffin?
3. Who on earth was overseeing the ongoing maintenance of the Oasis in the last twenty years? SBC/Morai/GLL/7C?
For the record – AGAIN
The SOS Campaign did NOT submit the listing for the Oasis.
It is though supportive of that request since Listing is one formal system the UK has to give some measure of protection to buildings that stand out as worth saving.
They know that if Listed, it will need 7C to go the extra mile to use its extensive expertise and resources to meet Listing requirements in the Oasis relaunch. But as the Twentieth Century Society point out: It’s worth it!
You can enjoy a vast collection of photographs and memorabilia for the foreseeable future.
“Celebrating the Oasis” at the Hub, in Swindon Town Centre (the former Old River Island shop).