Over the past year, a major building project has transformed Communal “Commie” Building at the University of Bradford into a space better suited to students and staff now: Student Central.
Communal Building opened in 1976, to offer facilities for staff and students, encouraging them to socialise, hence the title of the original publicity flyer: Togetherness!
Togetherness! is one of my favourite documents in the University Archive as it shows what student life was like (or was considered to be like by the Management Committee), and is unenthusiastic, sarcastic or candid about what the building has to offer. The new bar is damned with faint praise: “a fair improvement on the present one, although if one is a steady drinker, one doesn’t look much at the decor. The main feature of this is the ventilation pipes in the far corner”.
The original layout of Commie included a disco, bar and cafe on floor 02. Floor 01 offered rooms for hobbies including sewing, craft, metal and woodwork and photography, table tennis and board games, a shop, and the “quiet bar”, shown in this image from Togetherness!. The text reads, “At last! A place where you can bring your spouse/companion/parents to have a quiet drink in comfortable and pleasant surroundings”.
Floor 0 contained offices, plus TV rooms – one per channel. The uses of individual rooms changed over the years – the hobby rooms are no more (I rather regret the sewing/craft spaces!).
Commie unfortunately illustrated the worst features of 1970s building design. In dingy concrete, flat-roofed, with multiple confusing entrances and hidden staircases, the building lacked focus, was hard to understand and hard to love.
I am probably being unfair in showing this particularly depressing image; however, the University Archive contains remarkably few images of Commie, presumably because it was not used for the sort of events that generated Archive photos. No doubt individual students and the Students’ Union will have more cheerful ones of this building e.g. as a venue for Friday Night Discos.
The University’s flickr stream shows some more recent views of Commie in glorious (?) colour and great views of the transformed building.
I’ll add some links as I find them.
I am delighted that the building has been retained but brought into the 21st century, and hope that staff and students will enjoy using it. More information about and photos of Student Central on the UBU (University of Bradford Union) website.