Ben Franklin


07 October 2015 10:17

Cube Renovation confirmed!

We’re doing up The Cube! (tl;dr – bits in bold)

Union Films have been promised new seats for a long time, and the Cube is seeing increasing use as a conference and lecture venue as student numbers increase. At the minute, it is ill suited to the latter purpose, and the promise of new seats (the existing ones are frustratingly temperamental for anyone who regularly sets them up, and while the magic of the silver screen offers some distraction, bums are numb when the lights come up after a film) seemed but a distant dream.

But no more! Working hard on negotiating with the University, we’ve finally agreed funding, got Trustee Board and Union Council approval, and yesterday all works were agreed to take place in the Easter holidays 2016. The Union is spending £200,000 on this project (the University are contributing a significantly larger portion of the overall cost), in line with the normal yearly expenditure on capital projects of this nature.

The works will include installation of a permanent stage (a little over a metre in height and 2 metres deep), brighter lighting, and larger, more comfortable seats with those neat table things that swing up from the side, along with other minor works to make the venue more both more lecture friendly and entertainments venue friendly. You can choose the colour of the seats in tomorrow’s Tap, Choose, Change in The Union (08/10/15)

The stage will allow us to hold events like Welcome Parties, Freshers Ball, Elections Results Night Live etc with greater standing capacity in The Cube, since permanent staging will take up less space (when barriers are installed for gigs) than the temporary solutions used. It will also be available for use by performing arts groups who find the space suitable for their needs – probably music and dance groups, freeing up much needed space in the performance venues on campus. It also means that we can hold events such as the recent Lethal Bizzle gig and last year’s Professor Green visit in The Cube, reducing our reliance on Garden Court (which is owned by the University) and offering The Union more autonomy on how often we hold these events.

The changes for seating will slightly reduce the seating number, which I understand will cause concern and is a regrettable side effect of the style of seat that was chosen in the original seating discussions. The upside is that the new seats are far more comfortable, and will allow those of you who have found yourself in the Cube this year for lectures to have tablet desks to write on, and brighter lighting too.

Finally, for those worried that this agreement represents a selling of our soul and conversion of the Cube into a lecture theatre, The Union is retaining full ability to offer time in The Cube. As was the case this year, block student bookings will always be allocated before the University can choose which slots to use for lecturing to make sure that our members get priority on the space. Student numbers on campus are increasing at a healthy rate for the Union and University, and so we are trying our hardest to make sure that all space that can be used to deal with the expansion is of the quality our students deserve and is not just a compromise for capacity.

Change always creates concerns, but I am genuinely optimistic about this development. It’s not quite the theatre I promised in my manifesto, but it’s a genuine performance space, with little to no disruption (and in fact, a degree of enhancement) to use of The Cube as a truly multipurpose space. If you do have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch so the right information is being propagated. If you come visit me in the Sabb office, I can even show you a nice picture of the layout. Roll on Easter 2016!

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2 Comments on "Cube Renovation confirmed!"

  1. benfranklin
    07/10/2015 at 7:31 pm Permalink

    This is simply WONDERFUL news!!! (Believe me it is rare I say anything so nice about the Union so that’s high praise.) Just wondering re: using the cube for lectures. You say that this is due to the growth in student numbers which is largely true. However it is also because of the University’s singular failure to invest in new large lecture facilities to accommodate those numbers despite multi-million pound new buildings (and even a campus) in recent years. Will the Union be lobbying the University to actually do something about this within its estate development plan? Using the Cube as a lecture theatre seems like a sensible temporary fix, but it hardly seems suitable in the long term.

    Overall though: GREAT WORK!!! keep it up 🙂

  2. benfranklin
    Ben Franklin
    08/10/2015 at 9:30 am Permalink


    Thank you so much! The University do have projects in planning, as well as meetings to discuss the Cube I’ve been meeting with the Estates and Facilities team regularly to discuss buildings and lecture space, and there are projects in the pipeline. Planning building work anywhere on campus takes a lot of time, more still to see the projects brought to life, but the issue is already one of the highest priorities the University have as they also recognise the Cube as an imperfect (though still excellent) solution to the ongoing space problem. I’ll continue work with the University on developing more lecture and study space across campus, but I can tell you this is definitely already in the pipeline.

    I’m glad to hear you’re happy with what we’ve been doing so far, and I hope this addresses your concern. Stay in touch!


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