[Investigation Zone in the Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre, photo by James Newton]
Another award for the the Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre – this time it has been recognised with a RIBA South West Award for its architecture. This follows on from a Best Venue for History Learning award given by the School Travel Organiser Magazine.
Funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the state-of-the-art new Learning Centre opened in June last year. A former Victorian spa laundry building, along with an area of Roman remains beneath street level, have been sensitively renovated to create a Learning Centre that allows pre-booked school and community groups to learn about history and heritage in a hands-on and accessible way.
A highlight is the Investigation Zone – an atmospheric underground area set among real Roman remains, where children can explore, investigate and record archaeological materials. The floors above contain two stunning learning spaces, and a lunch room inspired by the laundry’s former water tank. An underground tunnel creates a direct route from the Learning Centre into the Roman Baths.
The RIBA judges said: “Tectonically and materially rich, the Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre is a triumph of thoughtful and inventive thinking that has created a series of dramatic and unexpected spaces that both celebrate and highlight the layered history of these wonderful buildings. It is a clear testament to the productive and successful collaboration between architect, client, archaeologist, contractor and wider design team.” Read the full details on the RIBA website.
The Learning Centre was designed by local architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. Matt Somerville, Associate at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, said: “Our approach was built on collaboration, and respect for the existing fabric – the Roman archaeology, the Victorian spa buildings and the changes we needed to make to bring it back to life. It’s fantastic to be recognised by our architectural peers for having delivered a building that can help the next generation appreciate these things too.”
Councillor Paul Roper, Cabinet Member for Economic & Cultural Sustainable Development, said: “We’re delighted that the Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre has been recognised by RIBA. More than 8,000 school pupils have visited the centre since it opened last year and enjoyed a wide range of interactive learning sessions, from dressing up as Romans, to handling original artefacts and investigating Roman building technology. We’ve also welcomed a number of local community groups for hands-on activity sessions.”
You can watch a video about the Learning Centre here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMNP7GRM92o&t=46s
For more information about school visits to the Roman Baths, visit www.romanbaths.co.uk/schools.