Project / Retrofit & Reuse

Somerset Place

Reclaiming the beauty of a Georgian crescent

Reviving a whole Georgian crescent to its former glory is a rare opportunity for a design team. So we were delighted to be an integral part of the developer team carefully restoring this Grade I listed property to create nine five-storey townhouses, 24 apartments and five individual dwellings.

Located on the quiet north slopes of Bath Spa, outside the hustle and bustle of the town centre, the crescent was in urgent need of repair following its use for over 50 years as university accommodation. But the crescent’s deterioration dates much further back.

In the Second World War, the crescent was hit during the ‘Bath Blitz’ of 1942, completely destroying the western end of the crescent, leaving only the ornate crescent façade in the centre, a pair of townhouses to the west side and the original crescent buildings to the east side.

The areas of the building destroyed by the bombs were rebuilt in the 1960s using modern forms of construction and configured for use as an institutional building. This included some brutal insertions that penetrated highly decorative cornices, surface mounted services and modern partitions and ceilings throughout.

We had some challenges ahead of us.

  • Location Bath
  • Client Future Heritage
  • Completion 2018
  • Value £16m
Somerset Place Bath 17092013 79

Righting wrongs

The renovation of the townhouses at the eastern end formed phase 1 of the works, and involved the careful conservation of the largely intact Georgian properties. This work included the removal of modern intrusions and the repair of a failed building structure – this is where water penetration and a lack of maintenance had led to the extensive decay of the building fabric.

Completing the crescent

The original crescent was incomplete to the western end as poor ground conditions were encountered during its original construction. In order to ‘complete’ the crescent, a new end stop to the building was constructed incorporating a five-storey Bath stone clad concrete frame, supported by a piled foundation structure.

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Made for modern living

In order to re-order the internal spaces of the western end to be suitable for residential accommodation, careful scoping of the demolition of inappropriate and redundant 20th Century structures was required. This was followed by the detailing of new stair and lift access, and the introduction of new floor-plates. All carried out to ensure they integrated fully with the original listed building fabric.c

A new drainage network

The existing combined drains to the property were in a poor condition and poorly configured, they required extensive repairs and separation into storm and foul runs where possible. This allowed the storm water to be attenuated to reduce the impact on the combined drains in the event of extreme rainfall events. The final sewer network was adopted by the local water authority.

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A word from the Project Lead

The previous owners of the property had treated the building with little respect for its historic features, covering up original details and inserting modern structures with scant regard for the damage being done. It was a joy to see the building carefully cleaned up and the removal of all modern intrusions, carefully restoring it to its original grandeur. The new apartments in the rebuilt western end are a triumph of space planning and structural re-ordering.