Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Swindon's Regeneration : The People Under The Hard Hats

Wring Group site manager Steve surveys the scene on the last day of demolition work on the former Swindon College Regent Circus site.

Planners, designers, architects, consultants, councillors, engineers and more. The list of people who are involved in urban regeneration can easily stretch to Christmas-list proportions.

But what about the contractors themselves? They're the people who go onto cold, windswept sites at all hours, on the front-line for criticism from anyone, site neighbours, motorists, passersby, it's a job few people would envy.

The one person who's been responsible for the old Swindon College demolition from beginning to today's end is Site Manager Steve from Wring Group. On the nearly thirty site visits fellow photographer Ed Howell and I have made, from the security of the site to the careful asbestos removal, to the weather hampering the work to equipment problems, we've seen a hell of a lot.

Just a few days after major demolitions works began in May, the view from Edmund Street.

So in the long story of Swindon's town centre regeneration, those people like Steve should be recognised for their dedication and professionalism.

Swindon's Regeneration : Thank You & Good Night

The final job on the demolition works at the old Swindon College site in Regents Circus

The very last part of demolition works at the old Swindon College site this lunchtime, with crushing of a small area of tarmac from the car park.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Swindon's Regeneration : Past and Future Icons

The former Swindon College is gone, but are there other 60s and 70s building that changing tastes and attitudes to architecture will make us save in the regeneration?

Swindon's built environment is a jumble of building periods, styles, quality and uses.

The question that we will have to think about in the next few years is, which buildings we might not initially want to save, will changing attitudes to style and taste make us reconsider?

If you suggested demolishing Swindon's Railway Village now, you'd meet huge resistance from many areas of society, but if you'd suggested it in the 1950s, chances are a different set of arguments in favour could have beaten early attempts at 'heritage' and 'preservation'.

Will Swindon have to save some of it's large collection of sixties and seventies buildings in the near future when regeneration goes up a gear?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Autumn As It Should Be

Some archive pictures from Lydiard Park showing what autumn is all about when we get past these few days of wall-to-wall grey.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Swindon's Regeneration : Demolition Done

The hulking 1960s block of the old Swindon College was still with us in July.

This week marks a significant stage in one of Swindon's regeneration projects. All the demolition work on the old Swindon College site at Regent Circus should be finished by the end of this week.

Considering how long it's taken for work to start, when it did, it's taken hardly any time.

The Vincents restaurant, which will be the site of the Morrisons supermarket in just over a year.

Located above Vincents restaurant was the auditorium with it's stage and dressing rooms, this the female dressing room with a script left on the counter.

A demolition few people believed would happen until they saw it with their own eyes. The roof being ripped off the main tower.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Roundabout Quick-Win for Swindon Landmark

A landmark good-enough for Forward Swindon to use it to market the town, then we need to make it look like the landmark it is.

Ask any Swindon taxi driver what local landmark they most often are asked to take passengers to and it'll usually be the Magic Roundabout.

The stunning effort by York on their Holgate Mill roundabout justifiably deserves the Best in Britain award from the UK Roundabout Appreciation Society. But can Swindon do better?

At the moment the Magic Roundabout is, in one word : grey.

Reflecting our motoring heritage and present, the roundabouts could feature different vehicles previously and currently built in Swindon, along with more greenery, lighting, and maybe some digital displays.

This cinderella landmark needs to reflect what it is, a gateway to the town, we need to put a proud stamp on it that says, 'welcome to Swindon'.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Metroland Effect on Swindon's Housing?

How much extra monetary value would you put on making your commute shorter?

If your journey to and from work could be reduced by 5 or 10 minutes, how much value would you put on that?

That's an extra 10 minutes eating breakfast, or an extra 10 minutes talking face-to-face to your family, or an extra 10 minutes asleep!

The value placed on the time saved through the reduced journey times between London and Bristol with the Great Western Main Line upgrade is expected to be millions added to the collective value of houses in the city.

A cut of 20 minutes on the journey time will save commuters more time and increase the attractiveness of Bristol and in the same upgrade, Swindon should come down to the 45 minute journey time mark (this is a modest estimation based on the speed and length of the route, under 45 minutes would be possible with a recasting of the timetable).

You could leave a workplace in London, travel to Swindon and be in your home within the hour, what an opportunity!

Notes : Metroland was the name given to the areas of the expanded Metropolitan Railway north west of London which was heavily tied and influenced by housebuilding and essentially created the modern definition of commuting.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Long-Distance Consumers for Swindon Outlet's Expansion?

The Long Shop which we soon be the new extension to the Swindon Outlet Centre, will it's stores be buzzing with international shoppers?
Swindon's Outlet Centre in the former GWR Rail Works workshops at Churchward, has since opening in 1997 become a vital part of retailing in the town.

The 50,000 square feet extension of the Outlet Centre into the empty Long Shop building next door (click here for pictures behind the doors of the Long Shop, that's frozen in time from 1986) will see £35 million invested, not just in the expansion, but also revamping the current centre.

With more visitors coming from overseas to buy highly-prized UK brands like Burberry and Paul Smith  at designer outlets, the Swindon Outlet Centre is well placed to reap huge rewards from foreign shoppers.

Plus as Swindon looks to attract businesses from the newly-dominate economies of China, India, Brazil and the rest, the retail offer we have will have to World-class too.

Swindon's Regeneration a Chance for Great Architecture & Design

Will Swindon's town centre regeneration lead to a new crop of landmark, award-winning buildings?
The Railway Village... Lydiard House... The Renault Building...The Motorola Building

All examples of important, nationally-recognised and in some cases, award-winning architecture, right in Swindon.

But in the last few years Swindon's perchance for landmark buildings has slowed somewhat.

With the town centre regeneration and the Swindon Masterplan, the will to push for new architecture and ideas in urban design is ready and waiting. Swindon could take a few risks in new designs and maybe see some more awards for it's built environment.

Swindon might not end up with dozens more landmark buildings, but the chance for high quality in urban design from the masterplan is a tantalising opportunity.