It’s Wednesday night and the clock is ticking slowly towards midnight; pints are downed and you’re straight to the bar to order a very necessary round of tequila slammers. It’s that time every Imperial student dreads: when the stewards usher you out of the mediocre establishment that is Da Vinci’s bar and into dBs, what has been unanimously-judged by students as an appalling attempt at a ‘nightclub.’ Staggering across the Union, cheesy flashing disco lights and ill-judged drum and bass meet scrums of people in drunken mob-mentality fighting for yet another drink at the one small bar dBs nightclub houses. Another drunkenly-torrid (but cheap) Wednesday night rolls on once again.
This is a typical Wednesday night for many a student at Imperial.
In the last few weeks, Imperial College Union President, Ashley Brown and his team have announced the imminent £2.4 million renovation of the Union’s nightlife venues. By the new academic year, a typical Wednesday night will hopefully play out something closer to:
It’s Wednesday night and you’re not paying too much attention to the time. It’s that time every Imperial student is warmly familiar with; the barman calls for last orders in [a new student-chosen bar name] bar. There isn’t any need to make the last-minute dash for another pint there, so you drunkenly skip across the Union into the newly-opened [a new student-chosen venue name] nightclub. The reverberating bass line meets the lambent lights from an extensive bar area, and that girl you’ve smiled at in lectures is casually leaning up against it. A barman looks over to you to see what you fancy, and a brilliant (and cheap) Wednesday night at the Union rolls on once again.
That’s the plan, anyway. The official name for this plan is Phase 3. Whilst Phase 1 and 2 saw the refurbishment of the Union offices, reception and activity spaces, the final phase of the Union’s revamp of their Beit Quad building is the one the vast majority of students have spent years waiting for. Freshers will be astounded and impressed, and just maybe they won’t come to the same conclusion that we all did two weeks into our first years: “The Union is shit”.
To make sure those words are never uttered again in South Kensington, this year’s team of sabbatical officers have made sure Phase 3 has been entirely student-led. From initial design plans to giving the new bars their names, student views and ideas have been on the forefront of this project. During November of last year, Deputy President (Finance & Services) Daniel Hill spent time in the Junior Common Room extensively talking to students about what was wrong with the Union bars’ current set-up. The Union have even taken the brave decision to hand over the naming rights to the students by running a “Rename the Bars” competition with felix.
The Union has continued to keep this costly refurbishment as transparent to the students as possible. Felix was curious what was happening with the £2.4million so asked for 3D concept designs, and the Union were happy to oblige. Daniel Hill, Deputy President (Finance & Services) explains: “This phase will have a lot more student involvement as it’s more front-facing. We’ve got everyone’s feedback.”
The Union have also set up a Phase 3 blog and are encouraging Twitter-led feedback (add #phase3 to your tweets) to keep students up to date with the latest developments on what they describe as a “much needed” renovation. There is an element of ‘don’t say we didn’t ask’ about the ethos of these accessories as students are encouraged to keep providing feedback on what the Union posts on the blog, found on the Union website.
It is clear the people working on Phase 3 are immensely proud of their progress so far, and are not scared to place potential stumbling blocks out into the public domain via their blog. The first of the inevitably long list of solutions needed to be found for problems during the planning stages is that of a load-bearing steel pillar directly in view of a newly-positioned stage in the nightclub currently dubbed dBs. The blog states that: “The pillar obscures part of the stage area and could be a problem when it comes to hosting live bands in the new nightclub.” After providing images of the pillar’s positioning, they pass over the question quite clearly to the student body to answer: “Do we really need to spend the time and money on removing this pillar? Will this pillar prevent bands from touring this venue?”