Treehouse unexpectedly closed ahead of schedule on Monday, leaving societies who had booked the space forced to hold events in alternative venues.
The initial plan was to close Treehouse at Christmas to begin renovation work. However, the Union upgrade website featured an update on the day of closure saying that it had “been cold and noisy recently due to the building project” and so the decision was taken to “hurry up and transform the space into something [students] will enjoy using”.
Despite a statement on the Union website claiming “we are working hard to make sure [bookings] all get moved to a similar kind of space as smoothly as possible”, one postgraduate student who turned up for a Hip Hop class said that the society was informed of the change just 20 minutes before they were due to begin rehearsals. She told The Gryphon “according to one girl, an alternative room was already booked and other people said that we then had to find another alternative. I’m not sure what the truth is, but no one knew that the room was out of use is all I can say for sure.”
The confusion suggests a severe failure in communication. Although the update advised societies to “speak to [the] Helpdesk” if they had any queries about their bookings, it is not clear whether or not they made any attempt to initiate contact with the societies who would have no reason to suspect a change of venue.
However, the Union has come up with solutions for another of Treehouse’s uses, saying: “You’ll be able to eat your own food in Function on weekdays from 10am-2pm as well as in Pyramid 11am-4pm. There will also be new microwaves in Function as well as in the foyer, so you’ll still be able to heat up your meals.”
The Lounge and Treehouse are due to reopen in April as studios for society rehearsals, although given the early closure it is possible that they will be available for use before this date. Plans for the new studio spaces include semi sprung floors, mirrored walls and lockers to store personal belongings. In addition, new showers will be installed in the nearby Old Bar toilets. Notwithstanding the inconvenience and confusion created in the immediate term, the Union hopes that the changes will ultimately “vastly improve the spaces available for our societies.”