By Rhydian Morris
Swansea University recently unveiled its newly designed Singleton Campus refectory to the student body. The goal has seemingly been to achieve parity of design between Singleton and Bay campus, with the new refectory being redesigned as a “breakout and study space”. The move raises some eyebrows as to the timing of the change being very close to the busy summer exam period. The refectory has traditionally been used as a lunch space throughout the year, with congregations of students using it during the May exam period as a study space.
While some students have reacted positively to the design, praising its “modern and aesthetically pleasing design”, most students have raised concerns over the significant reduction in space. Some students have criticised the use of space with worries over the availability of chairs and tables in the room. One student had this to say about the change “While there should be an attempt to modernise Fulton House its clear the University have not made efforts to maximise the space, it’s clear there aren’t enough tables and chairs for student demand”. Others have criticised the lack of “suitable plug sockets on the tables” which is a significant detriment to the use of the space.
While concerns have been raised over the issue of study space, the issue of space for dining has also been raised as a problem in the redesign. Fusion café becomes increasingly busy during term time and it’s unclear whether the university have factored in this use in the redesign of the space. One student expressed his frustration with the move “There’s no way this will accommodate everyone eating from Fusion, it used to get busy enough with the other layout”.
Other students made a comparison with the design of the Bay Campus Library, which has been frequently criticised for its prioritisation of design over practicality. Issue of space has been a consistent problem at Bay Campus and it seems the University have not learnt from student feedback. One student had this to say about the change “It’s clear what the University have tried to do, but they haven’t considered any of the practicalities or concerns that have previously been raised from the Bay campus.”
Many students have criticised the design, with comparisons made to various cheeses and the space being described as being anything from “an airport lounge” to a “nursery school”.
It will be clear over the next few weeks whether the redesign has been effective and students are able to adapt to the decrease in space in front of the new exam period.