Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Norman Foster hails conversion of his Renault building into kids’ play centre

  • 6 Comments

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.

  • 6 Comments

Readers' comments (6)

  • Catherine Croft describes it as 'a mess' - but, unless the 'now' photos aren't telling the whole story, the new signage is surely not that disruptive?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Typical hi tec needs arrows because there is no entrance indicated

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • What's the difference between 'signing' and the more trendy word 'signage'?


    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • May the children and parents be inspired by being in this iconic building. Architects often complain the the public do not understand and this is an ideal opportunity for the public to become more aware. Signage can easily be changed.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Chris Rogers

    Given how vast the bldg is inside - far far bigger and taller than it ever appears in pics - the kids must go missing/be scared..BTW no need for first comma in "Design for Homes boss, David Birkbeck, who spotted...".

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This alteration to the Renault Centre happened before it was listed. I visited in in April 2013 as part of ongoing research into the durability of architecture. The fabric we designed at Foster Associates is doing very well - despite little or no signs of maintenance including the neoprene skirt- movement joint at the head of the composite cladding.

    It the Kidz About's internal details that even more of a mess than the signage. However the energy of the children is wonderful. Its as if Cedric Price had organised an invasion. The rear half of Renault - the warehouse is occupied by a 'technology company' - TS Tech UK Ltd. All discussed with Julia Barfield another member of the Renault design team - who designed the showroom. Professor Michael Stacey

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.