Heslington East witnessed the opening of the Piazza building on 8 January in what the University hopes will be the final piece of the jigsaw in bringing the new campus onto an even standing with its older counterpart. There is no doubt that something has been missing from Hes East for some time, meaning that it can at times seem isolated and separate from the main campus. There are, however, those who argue that instead of continuing to invest in Hes East, the focus should be shifted to ageing buildings on Hes West.
The problems on Hes East are by no means a secret; students have complained for a while now about the lack of atmosphere and buzz that there is on Hes West. There is hope that with the new Piazza building, which will provide a large auditorium, a lecture theatre, new offices, as well as a restaurant and study space, will help to change this.
During the day, the building should provide a mecca for activity as students from both campuses converge on it in order to attend lectures or seminars that have been rehomed in the new development. There is no doubt that students will find this an inspiring space in which to work, and Computer Science undergraduates who have already had multiple lectures in the new development have been impressed with the stylish, modern appeal of the space.
The building also contains a restaurant as well as providing a service which will allow for Hes East’s first ever catered accommodation. This will hopefully provide an early evening buzz around the Piazza as students come together to share their meals; it is likely then that the activity created by this new development can detach the campus from its current reputation of being a bore.
In addition to the Piazza building, investment in the Kimberlow Hill Retail Park has brought with it several outlets to Hes East, including a Papa John’s and a Greggs. This is something that members of the three Hes East colleges are more than happy about. It is hoped that all these new attractions can start to make the campus feel like a home rather than just a place to live, which is without a doubt a goal worth investing in.
From Hes West, however, come growing calls that injustice has been served. While the juggernaut of Campus East development rumbles on, with new, modern-age buildings springing up year after year, some buildings on the main campus are in desperate need of some loving care.
One resident of Eric Milner A, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that “it does seem unfair that so much money is going into Hes East when in here we have power cuts and leaks happening on a regular basis”. They went on to say that “it wouldn’t take much to solve these problems, but it’s the little things that can get annoying”. With blocks such as Vanbrugh’s Eric A and B, and the Le Page blocks, alongside James’ infamous M ‘prison’ block remaining just on the edge of liveable at times, it comes as no surprise that some residents of these blocks feel marginalised.
What these accommodations do have, however, is an immense sense of camaraderie, and perhaps they will come to appreciate that this sense of togetherness and atmosphere is what the University is striving to create for Langwith, Goodricke and Constantine students. Hes West students should also bear in mind that the Piazza building is for the use of everybody, not just those on Hes East. With this most recent development now complete, perhaps the focus can shift to revamping the dilapidated old buildings of the main campus.