Comment Writer Natalia Carter conducts a survey to determine whether sex education in the UK is satisfactoryWritten by Natalia Carter on 23rd March 2018
The Green Heart: First Impressions
Music Editor Thom Dent discusses how the University of Birmingham's Green Heart Project is disrupting campus life
Slowly, the Green Heart is ruining everything.
Those of us who have braved campus amidst the flurries this week will have been happy to see a surprisingly pleasant new addition to the landscape: with work on the University’s controversial ‘Green Heart’ project finally seeming to progress, a section of the new lawn has been opened to the public. And it is very nice, a lovely verdant quad containing not one, but two trees.
Unfortunately, what you will have noticed almost immediately next is that this new section of campus is entirely pointless, its paths leading nowhere despite reaching, oasis-like, towards the library. You then may look around and see that in fact, there now appears to be no route to the library at all. Where once there was a clear thoroughfare through campus, there is now just a fenced-off building site, the familiar grass already churned up by the treadmarks of heavy machinery.
In fact, there is still a route through which students can traverse from the east to the west side of campus. However, much like routes over the Berlin Wall in the eighties, this turns out to be a complicated and long-winded affair, rife with obstacles and quiet political mutterings. Where before students were vocally complaining about the increasingly long time it would take to walk from building to building in the University’s main area (5 minutes to cross from the Arts Building to the Main Library, as one slightly hysterical History student quoted), now the situation is becoming too laughable for complaints to seem effective.
“The problem, currently, is not with the project’s design, but with its execution
Personally, I am beginning to see the merits of the ‘Green Heart’ project. Of course, the money could so easily have been invested in more worthy pursuits (study spaces being the obvious example), yet looking at the section already completed I am starting to believe that the completed project will eventually bring a refreshing aesthetic to the university. However, that is not the issue at stake here. The problem, currently, is not with the project’s design, but with its execution.
For such a controversial building project, the contractors hired by the university should surely have been given the remit of constructing the ‘Green Heart’ whilst causing the absolute minimum amount of disruption to campus life. Sadly, this does not seem to have been the case (despite the Vice Chancellor’s claims that contractors have been asked to plan to avoid noise pollution etc. during their work), as instead the project appears to the casual observer to be being developed on a decidedly ad hoc basis, with a lack of regard for academic ease-of-use that can only really stem from improvisation.
“Life on campus this year has greatly suffered from the stress caused by the ‘Green Heart’. It appears that no matter where you are, the project simply cannot be avoided
Add to this the bizarre lack of construction work that took place over the summer and winter breaks, and the entire endeavour comes across as a poor idea, executed poorly. Had the VC and his employed contractor taken a step back at any point and seriously considered how to avoid the adverse effects of the project, the ‘Green Heart’ might have stood a chance. As it is, I doubt that it will ever be truly accepted by the cohort it aims to serve. Even Old Joe has stopped bonging in protest. Surely there was a better way.