Abbey’s Footprint for the future
22nd March 2012
Abbey's Footprint for the future
Bath Abbey has confirmed its plans for Footprint, a major development project which will bring the city a new choir school, open up general meeting and learning spaces, create new ways of interpreting the Abbey’s 1,000 year history, add a more welcoming entrance and, later on, tap into energy from spa waters for eco-friendly heating.
The majority of building work will be underground at vault level to the south of the Abbey and within Kingston Buildings, which currently house the Abbey offices. There will be little effect on the Abbey’s external appearance aside from a minor extension to the clergy vestry and changing some windows into doors on the 1920s Jackson extension. Both are on the south side of the Abbey.
Plans for the £18 million project are being submitted and Edward Mason, the Rector of Bath Abbey, says: “Our vision is to provide precisely what is required for the Abbey to better serve the city for the rest of this century. The building work will greatly enhance the experience of everybody who comes here: it will enable us to do much more and, in particular, help improve our activities in the local community.
”While the Abbey may superficially appear changeless, it has always adapted to the times. Successive generations have made changes because the Abbey is at the heart of city life and it is now time for this generation to create a fresh footprint.”
Once work outside the Abbey is completed, there are further plans to rectify major problems with the floor and lighting within the building. Charles Curnock, Administrator for Bath Abbey, says: “We are open seven days a week, welcoming thousands of visitors who comprise both tourists and local residents. The Abbey remains a place of worship for many and is an integral part of the city for many more. It is a place where people congregate in times of crisis as well as celebration. It is a major performance venue and civic amenity and has an expanding choral tradition that draws out the talents of children throughout the area. It has a significant collection of archives and artefacts, and holds a responsibility to care for and make these available for future generations. All this creates a strain on the fabric of a magnificent medieval building, a strain we must ease if the Abbey is to continue meeting the needs placed on it by its many visitors, a thriving congregation, as well as the local community.”
The architects are Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS), an award-winning international firm based in Bath with a reputation for sustainable design and a strong track record in working with historically important and listed buildings. Geoff Rich from Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, the architects for the project, says: “The project is an amazing opportunity to help bring a truly magnificent historic building into the 21st century. We are confident that the proposed scheme will make it easier for current and future generations to use, understand and enjoy Bath Abbey as a dynamic place at the heart of our World Heritage City. When looking for a solution to create much-needed additional space for the Abbey, we had to be inventive as well as resourceful. Keeping the work underground in order to minimise any effects to the Abbey itself will make the project more complicated, but ultimately will prove invaluable.”
For the last three years, Bath Abbey and FCBS have been working in consultation with stakeholders and organisations including English Heritage, Bath Preservation Trust, B&NES Council and various church authorities. Planning applications will be submitted to the Council and the church authorities later this year.
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Notes to editors:
Revd Prebendary Edward Mason, Charles Curnock and Geoff Rich are all available for comment. Please contact Elaine Teh on 01225 422462 or email: email@example.com