Aspen to be felled

Submitted by Matt on

Aspen House is an office block located on Temple Street in Swindon, Wiltshire.  While I feel a bit of an attachment for it, the building has been left unoccupied for about eight years now after Heath Lambert left it for Focal Point.  


The above photo shows the building as of 3rd August 2013, and no amount of work in Photoshop will make it look good.  


Aspen House to me is a symbol of what Swindon once was, and what it wanted to be.  In the 1970s and 1980s, the town seemed to be putting up lots of new buildings to stimulate the economy and encourage offices away from London with its good road and rail connections.  To be fair, when the building was completed in around 1978, it looked impressive as this photo shows, however the lack of maintenance of the brutalist facade has left the tower block, at least, looking tired and it has quickly become a blot on the landscape.  


As with many office blocks put up in the 1960s and 1970s, the level of computerisation and automation wasn't foreseen, meaning that no provision for cabling, electricity supplies, specialist lighting and requirements of modern office staff were taken into account, and as such these buildings dated very quickly.  Indeed, my memories of Aspen House involve old style flourescent lighting, extension leads daisy-chained together, and slinging cables between pillars through a false ceiling.  


Sadly, after the departure of Heath Lambert in 2005, the cards were marked for Aspen House.  The building needed a huge upgrade before it was ever going to be let again, and the small footprint of the office space in the tower, at least, meant that it was always going to be toughie to get even a meagre rent for, especially with other, better quality office space freely available in the town.  


The council and Forward Swindon have clearly seen that this is the case as this article from the Adver shows, recently purchasing the property.  Over the last couple of weeks, demolition hoardings have been put around the building so its days are clearly numbered.  The photos in Jon Ratcliffe's blog show the empty building as the registry office that occupied the first floor moved out, and there's a small tear in my eye as I look at them.  


All I hope is that following demolition, the site is not left as waste ground as I feel that this would be more detrimental to the town centre than leaving the derelict building in its place.