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PROJECT REPORT: MIXED USE SCHEMES


contractor. Fairham says that, at least in his BDP Bristol office, this procurement method isn’t particularly popular with builders, and the fact that there was “a lot of interest” illustrates how attractive this project was. He adds that this was also down to the “resolution of the design information.” Following Rydon’s appointment, Fairham says briefing with the client was a “pretty straightforward” process of identifying key areas of interest: “We nailed down the bits that were really important to the client and the local community, and with other buildability and construction aspects we left more flexibility for the contractor to come up with best practice.” The £9.1m build cost was set early on following optioneering, and the project coming in on budget “offered a lot of bang for buck,” says Fairham.


Form


From early dialogue with the client, it was clear they wanted the building to have “a special character,” says Fairham. The masterplan includes an avenue which runs parallel to the site to a large green open space to the north, and the new building is a landmark for anyone travelling north- south – or east-west – across the site. During the optioneering phase, BDP developed one option called the ‘Beacon,’ which as the name suggests, stood out from the others. It took the material palette of the new Mulberry Park in terms of the brick used (albeit in a more restrained and Bath Stone-like creamy variant), and combined it with a dynamic cantilevering form which would make it a focal point. The building’s steel frame cantilevers to the side at second level, and double- cantilevers front-to-back at third. The resulting composition of stacked boxes overlapping and appearing to ‘slot’ into each other was directly inspired by the site’s heritage. “The concept is effectively a stack of Mulberry Harbours,” says Fairham, adding that the practice had “really positive feedback about it” from the local community.


Planning was granted under a ‘delegated approval’ – “a rarity in Bath,” says Fairham. He says that achieving the right balance in terms of proportion, while adhering to height constraints for planning, “reinforced the stacking concept” which the architects adopted.


The community centre and nursery are offset from the school by about two metres at the request of the academy that runs the


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school, and so the development effectively forms two separate buildings. They were designed as a unified entity by BDP however, and as such are linked by a continuation of the roof terrace that runs along the front elevation. The top storey’s cantilever extends to around 5 metres at the back, and covers a portion of a larger roof terrace, providing protected outdoor space for wellness classes. To the rear of the Community Hub is a 4G pitch, the fruit from a close relationship between the client and the nearby Combe Down rugby club, and a variety of sports activities can be viewed from the rear roof terrace. As part of the “long-life, loose-fit, simple maintenance” approach by the architects, the Hub has an exposed steel frame and exposed precast soffits, plus acoustic panels internally to increase the spaces’ usability. The soffits assist night time purging of heat, and underfloor heating throughout also helps to maximise the thermal mass of the slab.


One way in which the two buildings are unified is by the use of a copper alloy cladding, which has a bronze-gold colour and is perforated in a pattern based on aerial photography of the Mulberry Harbours. It creates an attractive variation to the exterior, enclosing the cantilevered, overlapping third storey, but also the school hall – which bookends the other side of a new public space formed in front


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HEART SPACE


The cafe area blends with a double-height volume at the centre of the building, which sits behind the front door, and provides a visual connection between the ground and first floor


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