In defence of Park Houses, the best worst place you’ll ever live
Our home away from home, we’ll defend them till we die
Park Houses. The big PH. Aimed specifically at those who don’t want to pay top dollar for a bed and a desk, but consider themselves to be deserving of enough a kitchen table (we’re looking at you, Park Village). Unless you find yourself in this category, you may be asking “What is this place? Where are these Park Houses you speak of so fondly?”, questions asked by many a Sussex student who have not had to associate with such a class of accommodation.
You’ve definitely walked past them on campus at some point, and no one would blame you if you mistook them for offices, or maybe a cluster of abandoned 20th century asylums, but we are here to tell you all about this hugely overlooked family of houses, and to defend them with our lives.
The five houses
York, Kent, Lancaster, Norwich and Kulukundis House. Just past campus Co-op, just before Park Village, here’s where you’ll find this neat little fam o’ five. Unlike ‘Block A, B, C’ (boring, unimaginative), each house has a proper name, and if you’re a resident of PH, you’ll find that your specific house instils a sense of unique pride and accomplishment within you.
You may find yourself arguing with other residents over which house is the best, and each one has its own individual merits. York? The party house back in the day. Norwich? Up a massive hill, possibly haunted. Kulukundis? The biggest rooms. Kent? Has its very own lift. Lancaster? King of fire alarms, the underdog.
Although they all have their differences, living in this lovely little clan gives you a much-needed sense of unity. As Sussex doesn’t have a collegiate system, this is the closest you will get. And it’s no question we’d clean up on sports day.
At almost no other point in your life are you able to say that you can successfully wake up ten minutes to the hour and still get to your appointments on time. With their central location, residents of Park Houses only need a few minutes to throw on a jumper, give their teeth a quick scrub and grab their phone before heading out the door and making it to their morning lectures on time. Nothing on campus is more than a five minute walk away (apart from the dreaded Ashdown or Freeman Centre) with the doctor’s, dentist’s and supermarket within view of your front door.
This is especially useful for when you need to sneak to the walk-in clinic for all your studenty needs – we’re talking STI-testing kits, morning after pills and hangover-curing tablets.
Possibly one of the biggest selling points for PH is the price tag: the cheap rent allows your money to be spent on more important things like that late night Co-op dash for overpriced snacks or those extra five jagerbombs from Chalk. With this new found affluence you can take Ubers to the club with little thought of your bank account knowing that ultimately, you’re still in a better off position than Northfield or Stanmer Court students. Who even needs a big kitchen or a double bed anyway? We’re not jealous.
You don’t have to buy your own toilet roll
The term ‘communal toilet’ has been known to make many students squirm. If you’re used to the luxury of an en suite, you may mistake these facilities for that of some sort of correctional institution, but they’re actually pretty convenient. Cleaners come once a week to do the kitchen and bathrooms, and the element of anonymity can be used to your advantage: left an embarrassing skid mark? Don’t stress – no one will ever know it was you when there’s ten other flatmates to suspect.
Downside: your messy flatmates will also use the guise of anonymity to leave the facilities in a right old state. Get your wellies on and power through ’til cleaning day.
You can actually eat at a table
No disrespect to Park Village – you make do with what little you have. But for an extra tenner a week at Park Houses, you have an actual hard surface to eat off, even if it’s never quite clean enough. Granted, there are only six chairs to go around eleven people, but you will soon learn to eat in shifts.
Fun n’ games
Park Houses have a rep as the most sociable of the lot and it’s easy to see why. You can do the maths, but with 12 freshers per flat, 11 flats per house and five houses in total, that’s a lot of room for activities when you should be doing your assignments. Pranks, high jinks, shenanigans – whatever you wanna call it, you’ll find plenty of it at Park Houses.
Soon gone, but never forgotten
As The University of Sussex has announced plans for the construction of West Slope, this means the end for most of Sussex’s much loved, old-school accommodation. Much like old East Slope (RIP), the majority of Park Houses could be making way for new building work, meaning goodbye to all of the above.
Much like van Gogh, it is quite possible that only after their death will these places get the true idolisation they deserve. Although the buildings may not survive this decade, the friendships will last a lifetime.