BANES Council (Bath and North East Somerset)
Set at the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the city of Bath, The Roman Baths and Pump Room is a site of international historical and archaeological significance, and attracts over one million visitors each year.
However, dedicated learning space was limited to a single room set in the most congested part of the museum. Our scheme provides a new Clore Learning Centre and publicly accessible Bath World Heritage Centre within a neighbouring group of nineteenth-century buildings. These new spaces connect to The Roman Baths through a vaulted undercroft beneath the street at the Roman ground level.
Built as a laundry, boilerhouse and warehouse to service the Victorian spa, the buildings were in need of significant investment and a new public-facing role.
The scheme unlocks the historic spaces by navigating changes in level between three different buildings and across a complex archaeological site. Two generous learning spaces are recovered from the shells of the nineteenth-century fabric, and supported by the essential ancillary functions previously lacking : a generous cloakroom, dedicated WCs, offices and a lunchroom.
Beneath the city streets, meticulously planned, ramped walkways navigate a way across and through standing archaeology in a part of the site that has been opened to public access for the first time. Part of the undercroft provides a third learning space where, immersed in Bath’s archaeological and historical past, children can try archaeology for themselves.
A lease of life for a suite of historic spa buildings, providing spaces for education and engagement.
Within these enigmatic spaces the visitor experience is not ‘museumified’.
Elsewhere, Roman archaeology is isolated and interpreted. Here, it stands alongside medieval, Georgian and Victorian fabric in a continuum of over two thousand years of the city’s development. An impression of being ‘behind the scenes’ is preserved; there is space for visitors to see, interpret and imagine for themselves.
By scraping away modern layers of plaster and plasterboard, the industrial character of the old boilerhouse has been revealed.
Soot-blackened walls are left on view and, against this rugged backdrop, new insertions are drawn from a palette of simple, robust materials with unfinished steel for stairs and balustrades, oak for treads and room linings, bare lime plaster for new walls.
Structural and civil engineer
Building services engineer
The Fire Surgery
QS Edmond Shipway
Houghton Kneale Design