Oasis Leisure Centre, Swindon
Earning a footnote in British pop history as being the inspiration behind the name of the band Oasis, this building is of national architectural significance. It is a rare and important survivor of a group of municipal leisure centres developed in England through the 1960s to 80s which marked a shift away from sporting facilities for competition, towards mass leisure facilities which could be enjoyed together by families, with activities undertaken for fun rather than for training. It is the last major work of architectural partnership of Gillinson Barnett and Partners (GBP), where Peter Sargent and Clifford Barnett were senior partners, the pre-eminent designers of leisure centres during this period.
At Swindon a large free form pool was enclosed by a 45 metre dome (the largest of its type in Europe) composed of an aluminium frame with transparent PVC panels. The RIBA Guides to Modern Architecture described it as a “fantasy structure, its half-submerged dome resembling a flying-saucer.” The Oasis is separated into a ‘wet side’, containing leisure pools and extensive waterslides, and ‘dry side’ for sports and recreation activities, the two being connected by the changing rooms, entrance hall and restaurant. Last autumn it was announced the centre would not reopen after the lockdown ended, raising concerns about its future. Since then new plans have been revealed by the developers Seven Capital to ‘revive’ the centre which include demolition of the dome. Supporting the passionate efforts of the local campaign group Save Oasis Swindon (SOS), C20 moved to protect the building with a listing application.
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