Norman Foster has expressed his ‘delight’ at the conversion of his landmark Renault building in Swindon into a Kidz About play centre
With its bright yellow ‘umbrella masts’ critics described the futuristic distribution centre as Foster + Partners’ most playful structure when it opened in 1982.
Perhaps then, its metamorphosis into Swindon’s ‘premier play and party centre’ complete with climbing apparatus, multi-coloured slides and indoor bouncy castles should not come as too much of a surprise.
While some have expressed concern at the garish signage now adorning the grade II*-listed building, Foster told the AJ he was relaxed about its latest use.
‘We are delighted that the Renault building has proved flexible enough to accommodate a kids’ playground and hope that they are inspired by its design,’ he said.
Design for Homes boss, David Birkbeck, who spotted the building’s current tenant this week during a visit to the local area, said the new use seemed to be working well.
He said: ‘Its yellow structure will be very attractive to toddlers. It looked very comfortable for children to use and strangely enough connecting with them in a way which was never anticipated in the early 1980s.’
However, Catherine Croft, director of the Twentieth Century Society described the appearance of the grade II*-listed building as a ‘mess’.
The society campaigned for statutory protection of the building prior to its listing by English Heritage in 2013.
She added: ‘I guess if there are no major physical alterations then the building will survive and at some stage a use which sees its architectural qualities as a positive asset will become a more economically viable option. Meantime, maybe a generation of Swindon kids will be inspired.’
The high tech building famously appeared in the 1985 James Bond film, a View to a Kill.