I’ve been in the newly revamped Appleton Tower. For those who don’t know, Appleton Tower is a huge Edinburgh University building. It has a reputation for being one of the ugliest buildings imaginable. It was in the running for Channel 4’s Demolition programme.
I think it has a bit of an unfair reputation. It’s certainly not the nicest building in the world; it is a bit tatty to say the least. But I don’t find it downright offensive like most people seem to. The toilets in Teviot? Now that’s really offensive!
Maybe I am immune to ugly buildings. I did, after all, grow up in Kirkcaldy which was home to the infamous Fife College St Brycedale campus building which has since been replaced by the spiffy new Adam Smith College.
But the old Fife College building was a truly manky. It was so horrible that nobody has had the guts to upload a decent picture of it to the internet. What was with all of the yellow and blue panels? Just like Appleton Tower, there were rumours that if you were to open all of the windows the building would actually collapse.
Anyway, they seem to have done up the inside of Appleton Tower, presumably to try and save it from demolition. It was almost a listed building until there was an outcry from students and residents. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s now the only building in the George Square campus that isn’t listed.
But Appleton Tower, instead of being a bit old and tatty, now feels downright weird. The location feels familiar, the lecture theatres are all in the same places. But it all looks different. By different I mean ‘wrong’. It’s like an old portrait with modern cubist interpretation scribbled over the top. The fact that it isn’t finished yet can’t help. There is still sawdust in all the corners and the paintwork is clearly unfinished.
The lecture theatres — apparently state of the art, and I don’t doubt it — are now filled with pointless technology. An elaborate control panel is used to move the blackboard up and down ferchrissake! What is wrong with, you know, using your hands to move the blackboard? Are lecturers really that lazy now?
And what is with the new seats? They are like car booster seats with massive arms that just restrict your movement. The cramped space doesn’t help either. Want to reach your bag to do something trivial like get your notes and pen out? You need to be a contortionist.
I do kind of miss the old lecture theatres. Yes, they were tatty and manky. But they had charm. I really miss the old ‘no smoking’ sign. It was beautiful. I hope somebody has a photograph of it somewhere. But most importantly of all, the legendary Appleton Tower graffiti is all gone! Well, there was a lonely ‘J’ written on my little table, which I suppose is promising for such a new facility.