The plan would see the bunker turned into a 200-seater auditoriumKing's College/Youtube

King’s College planned to turn their iconic bunker into a 200-seat conference hall, but have stalled plans due to a lack of funding.

Despite years of hosting techno nights and bohemian parties, the £20 million ambitious project looked to transform the bunker into a “performance auditorium” – built for “academic and creative exchange” and fit with the University’s first “electroacoustic” recording studio. A move which the College said would bring “students and fellows closer together”.

However, despite fundraising efforts which involve “naming opportunities” and “commemorations” for gifts over £10k, the College is more likely to opt for a reduced scheme.

The plans surrounding the bunker are set to be discussed later in the year, but the proposals have already frustrated students.

According to one undergraduate, Sam (not his real name), “the idea that this project will ‘bring students and fellows closer together’ is laughable”.

Similar development projects elsewhere in the College are “hardly for student use. We cannot use the bar for certain student-run events, since the floor is porous and expensive, and the same will be true of whatever soulless, white-walled Keynes Hall that they create. If King’s continue with this ‘enriching’ project, they will erode whatever student spaces existed to begin with”.

According to the College, the renovation looks to improve the “mix of poorly designed function rooms” surrounding Chetwynd court with a state-of-the-art revamp in the hope of meeting new building standards.

The proposed change would see the bunker host conferences, lectures and seminarsKing's College/Youtube

As well as the proposed auditorium, the partially completed blueprints feature a new lecture hall, supervision rooms, college bar, and glazed roof over the courtyard – “making it an all-weather meeting place for student and conference use”.

While the College say the changes will provide an “inspirational space for hosting seminars, lectures and national and international conferences”, students are unconvinced:

Sam told Varsity: “What frustrates me most about the plans to ‘transform’ the court is the idea that doing so will preserve the ‘special nature of King’s’. Any ‘special nature’ that King’s has is not from ‘hosting international conferences’ or an ability to ‘provide high-quality…conference facilities’. King’s special nature is built on community values, care for students, and equality amongst staff and students; the redevelopment plans completely disregard these things”.

Nor are the projects that have already been finished popular with the students.

According to a third-year student, Åke Gafvelin, the bar’s renovations make it a less suitable student space and have led to it being nicknamed the “premier-inn” bar because of its modern design.

For Ake, the project is part of a “general theme in the college of neglecting students in favour of donors, conference guests and tourists. As a student, I do not feel welcome at King’s and will actively dissuade people from applying”.

But according to a student who sits on the building committee, the students needn’t worry about the bunker: “Initially there were plans to redevelop and effectively remove the Bunker, but those plans are being changed as the college couldn’t find a Donor.


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“At the moment, King’s is getting an architect to do a reduced scheme, so any changes to the bunker are unclear but likely to be mostly superficial, with the possible exception of including a lift down to it.

“Basically, the College are going to present revised plans cheaper than what was initially planned to the committee, and until we know what they are we don’t have any clue if they’re going to try any redevelopment of the bunker or what it’d look like if they did, although the last meeting implied the continued existence of the bunker at the very least”.

King’s did not confirm if the project had been put on hold due to funding issues, but told Varsity that “new plans are being sought for an alternative, scaled back version of the scheme without the underground excavation / auditorium. Again, there’s no suggestion that the Bunker would be lost or replaced”.