Today’s image came courtesy of Matt Somerville – an associate at the Bath-based architectural firm of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios who were behind the design of the “Archway Project” which saw the re-purposing of an old Victorian laundry into the World Heritage and Clore Learning Centres.
Matt told me: “The only frustration, from my point of view, was having to wait over a year since the building works were completed to see the roof level perforated ‘wrap’ finally installed- but it’s all come good in the end!
These panels of perforated, anodised aluminium enclose the Clore Learning Centre’s ‘Water Tank Room’, a much-needed space for visiting school groups to eat lunch. This is a volume formerly occupied by the Victorian spa’s water cistern until its demolition in 2003, and these watery connections have informed the design of the veil-like wrap that replaces it.
At a distance, its division into curved panels is reminiscent of the sectional construction of the Victorian tank it replaced. The panels have a bespoke laser-cut perforation generated from images of cloud or mist – highly perforated at the bottom, almost imperforate at the top – which gives them a misty, almost insubstantial appearance.
On closer view, you see that the perforations follow a pattern of interlocking fan-like shapes which recall the tessellations of a mosaic, the cobbled paving outside the Roman Baths (into which the city’s World Heritage Site emblem is set) or, perhaps, stylised mist or water. This is more clearly revealed if you’re looking out of the Water Tank Room, where the panels filter light into the space.
The appearance of the wrap changes according to where you’re viewing it from and what the lighting conditions are. This is even true at night time when lights built-in behind the panels illuminate it from the inside.”
If you haven’t ventured into York Street to admire the work you should! The World Heritage Centre – which explains how Bath won its two ‘inscriptions’ from UNESCO – is absolutely free to enter!