Minis up the side of office building to make Swindon a centre for urban art again
An idea put forward by Swindon Link publisher Roger Ogle in July 2009 will soon be revealed in the town centre once specialist aerial engineers have completed their work painting a road up the side of Alexander House to create Swindon’s biggest artwork.
Attached to the ‘road’ complete with zebra crossing will be two fibreglass Minis on loan from BMW, one driving up the side, the other on the top. Also part of the decoration will be some roundabouts for which Swindon is famous for.
The idea for decorating the building was suggested as a bit of fun in the July 2009 Swindon Link magazine when we suggested it was an ideal canvas for urban art and called for submissions using Photoshop or traditional pencil and paper.
Swindon was world renowned in the 1970s and 80s for its collection of murals on the side of buildings which gradually disappeared for lack of funds to maintain and renew them.
Far from being offended Lenta Business Centres saw an opportunity to draw attention to Alexander House and offered to run a competition for young people and adults and to fund a technical feasibility of turning creative inspiration into reality, with support by town centre regeneration company, Forward Swindon.
kytek, the contractors responsible for attaching minis for BMW to various buildings around the country, have undertaken the work.
Pictured top, Skytek abseilers completing work on Swindon’s largest art installation. Below, Mike Pringle, who when working for Forward Swindon liaised with BMW about repurposing the fibrglass vehicles which had been mounted on the Mini body pressing plant in Stratton St Margaret.
In 2009 Alexander House manager Rachel Hampson, below, said she was taken aback when she saw the July Link magazine, after several tenants had sent texts about how we had provided unusual publicity. “Having been here for fifteen years I’m protective of the building, it has a good reputation, lovely tenants and owners who really care about the service we provide. But I was impressed by the quirky idea.
"Alexander House is very white and stands out in the town centre and I started wondering whether an artwork on the exterior could attract even more attention. I approached the owner and he could see the possibilities immediately."
After hearing that the Swindon Council’s planning committee had given Lenta permission to decorate the building for three years in Autumn 2011, Rachel said she was ‘over the moon’ "It’s so exciting that this project is now to become a reality.
"We studied the feasibility of using one of the competition entries but the cost was prohibitive. Then Forward Swindon heard that BMW had removed the two minis on the side of their pressing factory in Stratton and they were willing to lend them to us. It’s great that Alexander House is able to display two of Swindon’s iconic features – a car partly made in the town and our famous roundabouts.”
Robert Levey, Lenta managing director of Lenta, added: “We were taken by the idea of decorating and creating a talking point about Alexander House.
"We committed to actually turning the project into reality from the start and we’d like to thank Forward Swindon and BMW for their backing. I’m glad the council’s planning committee liked the idea”
Below, ideas submitted in 2009. See more digital treatments of Alexander House at: http://www.swindonlink.com/photo_gallery/colour-swindon-with-rainbows
See Swindon artist Ken White’s 1970s Golden Lion mural at http://www.swindonlink.com/features/kens-mural-returns-brighter-than-ever-before