Abercrombie: the building you didn’t actually pay for

One architect speaks out in favour of Abercrombie’s exclusivity.


It is clear that the facilities the Built Environment faculty have at Brookes has created a bitter divide between the students of the School and the rest of the University. (You can read the original article here.)

Voicing the concern over lack of space in the library when the Urban Design Studio “is a mass of free computers, laptop power points, comfy chairs and desks” is a valid point, however calling both students and lecturers alike ‘snooty’ and ‘elitist’ disregards any potential for compromise.

This is what £16.2 million can buy you

This is what £16.2 million can buy you

One of the main issues seems to be that the Abercrombie building is off-limits to students not part of the Built Environment faculty even though their course fees contributed to its construction. The actual “reality” is that the building was paid for largely by donations and is only a fifth of the new development that Brookes is undergoing.

Once the John Henry building opens, all students will be able to benefit from the redevelopment along with having a new library which will resolve the issue of lack of space.

urban design

What evidently hasn’t been taken into consideration is that the teaching and work space in the Abercrombie building have specialist facilities that subjects such as History or Geography do not need. They are not simply computer rooms, but instead studios that have a very different purpose.

Kitchens causing controversy

Kitchens causing controversy

All of the computers are high spec with top of the range graphic cards that are essential to the Built Environment students. The computers are not owned by the University, but instead by the faculty which is why they are not to be used by students that do other courses. However there are computers on the third floor of the Abercrombie building that are for use by anyone.

The studios become essentially a second home for the majority of Built Environment students. It is unfair and immature to mock the facilities that we require and underestimate the huge workload that we undertake, simply because you stumbled upon one rare occasion that a studio space is empty.


Want to read more of what you care about? Then like The Tab on Facebook to get regular updates. You can also get involved by emailing [email protected]