The arts campus underwent some serious renovations that have had mixed reviews from students. Intended to make room for the newly relocated Drama course and add extra space for the creative industries campus’ steadily growing student body, the refurbishments were controversial when they began in the spring term.

Bower Ashton Refurbishments a Mixed Bag For Students_lib
The Bower Ashton library has put its new space to use with more student study spaces and computers // Credit: Ruth Krabacher

Much of the early criticism sprang from the fact that there was little attempt to educate the students about the plans, or more importantly their chance to give feedback on the proposed construction which drastically altered the campus’ SU bar, canteen and library. Regardless, the university’s proposed renovations went ahead and the summer holidays saw Bower Ashton receive some major changes.

The most noticeable change is that the campus SU bar and Traders, the canteen, have now been merged into a single open plan area. Previously, the two had been separated by an open-air courtyard which has been removed. With this has come some serious changes to the area’s aesthetics; while previously the SU had cultivated a comfy, slightly grungy hipster feeling, this has been replaced with a white-walled modernist style instead. The popular student leisure area no longer features student artwork or constantly changing murals. Gone are the armchairs of uncertain origin, and in their place are neon orange hard plastic armchairs.

The library, on the other hand, has mostly seen beneficial changes. The renovations have increased the amount of available space, and the university has put it to good use: more shelf space, group work areas, and more computers. Ideally, these improvements will also allow the library to keep a wider range of books and resources on hand and cut down on the need to request items from Frenchay.

The campus’ SU no longer features student murals or artwork after the renovations. // Credit: Ruth Krabacher
The campus’ SU no longer features student murals or artwork after the renovations. // Credit: Ruth Krabacher

While the renovations were focused on the campus itself, many students are still frustrated with the campus’ major issue, the lack of university parking. Given the unreliability of bus services to Bower Ashton and lack of nearby student housing, many students turn to alternative methods of transportation. Current parking for the campus is highly competitive—students should plan to arrive early if they want a space—and expensive, with a day pass costing £3. There are a number of reasons why the university is unwilling or unable to come up with parking solutions, ranging from greener travel to a lack of nearby land. The end result is that for many, cars are not a viable option, forcing them on to already overcrowded buses as the weather turns sour.

Whether or not students will see the summer renovations as an improvement remains to be seen and will no doubt change as time goes on. At the very least, they’re no doubt relieved to no longer have to deal with circuitous detours around construction areas.

By Ruth Krabacher