Silverstone is the most ridiculous building in the world
There is a spectre hanging over Sussex. The spectre of Silverstone.
Sussex University has many foibles we ache to moan about. Eduroam, Co-op prices, and a lack of an on-campus club are prime examples. There’s one however, that doesn’t get mentioned as often as I think it warrants – the weird building designs and, in particular, Silverstone.
For those unfamiliar with what and where this hopeless structure actually is – it houses Media, Music and Film and is hidden away behind the library.
For such a variety of vibrant subjects, you might expect the headquarters to reflect their forward-thinking and creative vision. A swish, glassy palace for the Guardian columnists of tomorrow to sharpen their quills.
Silverstone is less like the BBC Building and more like a journalistic Gringotts. Upon entering, visitors are faced with an imposing, cramped staircase, winding its way up the spine of the building, offering nothing in comfort nor direction.
The higher you climb, the more you begin to sense an unsettling aura. Like much of campus, the building holds a crushing sense of history, as if the protesting souls of students’ past are haunting the musicians and filmmakers of today. The vast swathes of concrete that line the narrow halls do little to assuage this sensation.
This leads neatly onto the second issue. There is absolutely no continuity or logic to the layout. In fact, I wager that you could spend three years traipsing through these Rubik’s Cube corridors without ever discovering the range of podcasting booths, fancy infinity curve and state-of-the-art music production studio. Theoretically at least, Silverstone is Sussex’s answer to Abbey Road.
Ala the Room of Requirement, you can only find these incredible resources when you least expect it, but need them most. Really bloody annoying when you have a photography deadline. As if to cement my point, the other day I was minding my own business in one of the dark catacombs near the optimistically-named Sky Lab, when an older gentleman stopped me in my tracks.
Jumping out of the shadows, he looked helpless. Stammering, this otherwise educated man was unsure of how to physically get out. I imagine he was a first year who got lost here back in the Seventies, and never found anyone to ask.
Apparently the basement’s green screen is sometimes used by production companies for filming. Maybe this is why Avatar took so long to be made – James Cameron is still locked in Chrome.
It’s not as if the rooms themselves are particularly well thought out, either. The aforementioned “Labs” are windowless, stuffy hives of overdue coursework and tortured souls. The computers are cool enough, but why not stick some oxygen in there as well?
If you have a hangover during a 9am, it is particularly hideous. The lack of outside distraction and weird soundproof walls make you feel as if you’re in the bowels of a submarine, with your captain showing slides of obscure photographers, commonly-used fonts, or sociological theorists.
You really do lose all sense of perspective of the outside world in this place. I imagine some 3rd years think Harold Wilson is Prime Minister.
Don’t make the mistake of going there late at night, either. It’s perfectly safe and the staff are consistently helpful and lovely, but you can’t shake the feeling that the industrial-grade corridor lights are less ‘slick media hub’ and more ‘zombie mode on Call of Duty’. Makes for some interesting vibes.
Okay, the point might be getting a bit over-egged here, because once you get used to it, Silverstone is one of the most useful buildings on campus. It’s just a shame that the layout was presumably relayed to the builders down a crackling telephone. Go home Silverstone, you’re drunk.