Save our Spine


Design the Spine, fomerly known as the Spine Remodelling project, aims to ‘rejuvenate what is arguably one of the most used ‘rooms’ on the Lancaster University campus’. The Spine is an integral part of the University, and has remained pretty much untouched throughout the years, successfully fulfilling its intended purpose. However, the lads over at Rick Mather Associates and Grant Associates have a ‘vision’ to ‘bring [the spine] into the 21st Century’ and ‘provide a vibrant, light, safe, weather protected route’. One would think that the constant use of the Spine makes it vibrant enough, and the shelter it provides achieves its aims as a form of weather protection. Sure, I think we could agree that the light could do with a bit of improving, but instead of fitting more lights or using energy-saving means of lighting, apparently the whole walkway needs knocking down and starting again.

A main issue hoping to be tackled by the project is the apparent ‘rotting canopy’ in North Spine. The wooden canopy will be placed by glass, which will look beautiful I’m sure, for about 4 months, until it is covered in moss and dirt. Perhaps the cultivation of moss and the Spine taking on a more green hue is a tactic to make the university look greener overall. The glass canopy will also be delightful in the summer months (such as they are) when we are all burning under the concentrated sunlight.

One of the worst things about the redevelopment is the idea to get rid of the columns, due to them being apparently ‘claustrophobic’. The columns are an important part of the Spine, and there is nothing better than walking through and looking at the various posters students have made an effort to create and put up. If anything, this reinforces the Spine’s importance and makes it more vibrant and interesting. But it’s okay – instead we will be having various electronic screens along the Spine, and it will be greener, because using electricity 24/7 is more environmentally-friendly than using paper, which can be recycled. If you want to put a poster up, all you will need to do is e-mail facilities and ask permission, which will probably be followed by a long, long waiting list, particularly as everyone will be asking at the same time. Despite the extra workload, this is a win for University Management, who often tear posters down and clear the Spine whenever there’s an open day or when someone vaguely important comes to visit. I can’t help but think that having electronic screens up and down the walkway will be nothing but reminiscent of communist China…

One can only wonder how much this project will cost, but I’m sure we can all imagine that the money would be better spent elsewhere.

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