Bath is the most complete and best-preserved Georgian city in Britain, and in 1987 it became a Unesco World Heritage site. Conservation bodies don’t always welcome new development, yet our experience in Bath proved otherwise: the city embraced a truly contemporary approach for this riverside site.
On the south bank of the River Avon and just a short walk from the city’s historic centre, our two riverside buildings – Royal View and Sovereign Point – are set within the wider masterplan for this former industrial site. They act as ‘gatehouses’ at the crossing points over the River Avon, against the backdrop of the more rectilinea buildings of the masterplan.
We wanted to ensure that our buildings would both respect the historic character of Bath and yet be distinct, ensuring the buildings are rooted in the landscape and respond to their shared surroundings – the bridges, the river, the new Elizabeth Park, and the heritage landmarks in the distance.
Embracing curves was our natural response to the site. Nature rarely produces straight lines, and introducing a language of curves and setbacks for these two eight-storey buildings softens their form and helps reduce their visual impact. The design of each is contemporary, but both are faced with Bath stone, the city’s dominant historic material.
Orange ceramic tiles in the balconies’ recesses help to break the solemnity of the stone and is a reference to the rusty tones found in the city’s Roman baths. The design of the balustrades is inspired by the historical Brunel Bridge close by. On the top of each building, a roof garden appears as a ‘green crown’ that can be seen from afar, while planted vertical walls at ground-floor level soften the threshold between inside and outside.
Each of the two pavilions has a central atrium. On the ground floor, this gives the buildings an immediate feeling of both light and space, drawing residents into the lobby and providing a direct link with the sky above. The atrium also creates internal balconies and walkways leading to each home, supporting the social cohesion between the residents.