Friday, August 31, 2012

A Quiet Moment

Taken today, a quiet moment at the end of the working week for me is summed up in this picture. Peaceful and relaxed, lovely!

Swindon's Regeneration : The Last Leg

Things from above.
The Swindon Railway Station Forecourt project has been dogged by obstacles, weather, utility companies and the need to keep the area open 24 hours a day without disrupting the operations of the station.

But in a short while, it'll all be done and looking down from above last week, the greenery is making a big impact. Once the paving is finished, a vast pedestrianised space will greet passengers, with seats, trees and what's called 'wayfinding' in evidence through the arrangement of the street furniture. Even if people don't notice the new map and sign in front of the main doors, the paving, arrangement of the trees and crossing will help to direct people towards the bus station and town centre.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Swindon's Regeneration : If You Crane Your Neck

You can't always see what's going on behind a worksite's hoarding, but when that beacon of regeneration arrives, the crane, everyone for miles knows somethings going on. It's already got company, a second one is now on the Union Square Phase 1 site.

Looking good against the blue sky.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Swindon's Regeneration : Now and Soon

We're nearly at the end of the demolition phase at Regent Circus, making now a good time to show what will be occupying the space soon. Developer Ashfield Land has produced an online brochure, with a detailed floor plan for the new development, click this link and scroll to the bottom of the page to download the plan. 

Here's some of the artist's impressions, with best matches from the pictures I've been taking, helping to give a visual reference point for each image.

This picture is slightly too far to the left, with the matching point for this view across Regent Circus being at the crossing point in the lower right of the photograph.
An artist's impression of the Regent Circus development, viewed from the crossing at the corner next to the Central Library.
The crossing points and roadways become what's called 'shared space' where roads and paths are not distinctly defined, heightening drivers and pedestrians attention. The building will only be around half the height of the tall college tower.

Taken from Western Street, looking down towards the corner of Rolleston and Edmund Streets.

The same viewpoint, showing the tallest block as the cinema, with the spiral allowing access between floors on the  450 space car park.

The road layout remains the same, with an entrance to the multi-storey car park and pedestrian entrance to the main development at the corner of Rolleston and Edmund Streets.

On the corner of Rolleston and Edmund Streets.

On the corner, at 45 degrees to the above photograph, the corner of the Cineworld building should be in line with the nearest wall of the single-storey workshops. One of three entrances to the car park will be on this corner, along with one of the main pedestrian entrances.

Immediately behind the white gates, looking directly towards Regent Circus.

Along the same line, the main pedestrian street of restaurants will link the back of Edmund Street and the main pedestrian and meeting place on the edge of Regent Circus, seen in the distance where the round tower is.

I hope this gives you a better idea of what the finished Regent Circus development will look like.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Swindon's Regeneration : Welcome to Union Square

The Phase 1 area of Union Square on the former Police Station site between Princes Street,  Gordon Road and Fleming Way. An 850 space multi-storey car park, 45 sheltered housing units, space for the new NHS walk-in centre and offices are currently being built.
Sometimes a regeneration is so big, there's only one way to see it from, above. So, yes, you've guessed it, another rooftop!

This time, the roof of the Jurys Inn on the corner of Fleming Way and Princes Street gives a perfect spot to watch the changing face of Swindon with the Union Square project. 

The first phase of works on Union Square is completed, the new Whalebridge junction.

On the vast empty plots of land around Princes Street, Fleming Way, Corporation Street and Manchester Road the project will provide 650,000 square feet of office space, room for a new NHS Walk-In Centre, a 100-bed hotel, 150,000 square feet of retail, cafe and restaurant space, 450 residential units, an 850 space multi-storey car park, a new bus station, lowering of Fleming Way, a new public square, new road junctions at Whalebridge and Gordon Road, and new public spaces.

Piling work has started on the Union Square Phase 1 area.
The work on Union Square is phased over 10 to 15 years, a scheme of this type has never been seen in Swindon before. It will entirely change the town centre, there's no doubt about that. The first phase is well underway on the land of the former Police Station between Gordon Road, Fleming Way and Princes Street. The car park, sheltered housing units, and offices are currently being built (space will be provided for the NHS Walk-In Centre on the Phase 1 site).

The land in the middle-ground, the open car park, walk-in centre and fenced space will be Union Square Phases 3 and 6.
The Union Square project will stretch all the way along Corporation Street to the junction of Manchester Road and then along to the present bus station at New Bridge Square. The current bus station and multi-storey carpark, along with the vacant land will be brought back into use for houses, offices, shops and public spaces. One interesting touch in the design is the resurrection of several former street and road lines that were lost when the land was previously developed. The line of Broad Street and Carfax Street is retained and the line of Gordon Road will continue across Fleming Way. Because the majority of Union Square is based around a pedestrianised centre space, making the new development inviting for people as a thoroughfare is central to the design of it's layout.

An artist's impression of the Union Square project, looking immediately north of Fleming Way. The Zurich Tri Centre is the white building, with the buildings in the right foreground occupying the site of the former Post Office. These buildings are Phase 2, with the buildings across the new public square Phases 4 and 5.
What are currently empty, unwelcoming spaces in the very centre of Swindon will be brought back into use where people will live, work and relax.

For Union Square and Swindon, it's just the beginning.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Swindon's Regeneration : Back Down To Earth

A cleared canvas at Regent Circus.

The above picture is a photograph of, space. Not a building, or a person, but a large area of fresh air. Far off in the distance you can see the houses of Eastcott Hill. Yesterday, the final ground floor sections of wall were crumbled away by the Wring Group's machines and the former Swindon College 'modern' extension was no more.

All that remain are 20,000 tonnes, or thereabouts of material, metal, concrete, wood and glass to be sorted, reduced to transportable size, boxed up and moved for reuse. That should take a few weeks, then building work can start in October.

The small pile of debris in the centre right and the collection of metal to the far left are the last pieces of the main tower that were pulled down yesterday.

What also remains on site are the memories of classes, teachers, students, exams, assemblies, gigs, plays, meetings and much, much more. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Swindon's Regeneration : A Change In The Air

A brooding sky, quiet street and birds circling overhead, give an unsettling feeling on Monday lunchtime.

Demolition sites can be fascinating places, allowing people to act like children and watch big machines crush buildings to dust. But give a change in the weather, a break in work and an absence of people and they can take on a sinister air.

The only sound alongside the breeze was the gentle hiss of the water spray.

With a moody sky, the hulking pile (for it's no longer a tower) of debris where the central tower once stood threw-out odd shapes against the sky. In Edmund Street, the breeze coming down Eastcott Hill rocked the access gates back and forth, squeaking and clattering on it's hinges. Behind the hoarding, the spray was left on, like a leaky steam pipe in a ship's empty boiler room. Small areas of dust would blow around the yard, bouncing off the walls.

On the hill, tables at The Beehive, overlooking the demolition were vacant, and streets were quiet, sitting in a purgatory. The neighbourhood seemed to know it was at a crossing point of eras, with time for the remaining one crumbling away like so much concrete dust.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Swindon's Regeneration : The Tower's Last Stand

Rest awhile and watch the demolition.

A new sport, non-Olympic based it has to be said, has been to sit for a short or long while depending on your day, and observe the regeneration of Swindon's Regent Circus. On benches at the bottom of the hill and mid-way up by The Beehive pub people sit quietly and watch the crumbling of the former college building.

The wafer-thin looking roof is quickly broken off and consigned to the scrap wood piles on the ground.

Whilst onsite on Friday we captured the roof being nibbled away at and come crashing down.

Anybody for some very last-minute careers advice in the library?

The last few pieces of the Learning Resource Centre in the rubble of the library can be seen brightly clinging to the wall.

In a matter of days, it'll all be gone.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Swindon's Regeneration : The Final Piece

The tower of the former Swindon College is marooned amongst the piles of metal, glass, plastic and concrete as the demolition enters it's last few stages. This was the 10 storey tower that stood between the long rectangular block towards Victoria Road and the reception and hall at the Eastcott Hill end of the site. It's taken on the look of an oriental pagoda, helped by the one piece of sloping roof still clinging on.

The wall that's kept Eastcott Hill hidden from view for so long, is nearly all down.