Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Ashton Old Baths in Ashton under Lyne, England by Modern City Architecture & Urbanism (mcau)
May 22nd, 2016 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Modern City Architecture & Urbanism
An ambitious multi-million pound project to bring Ashton-under- Lyne’s former municipal baths back into use following the award or grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Heritage Enterprise programme (£1.7m), the European Regional Development Fund (£1m) and from Tameside Council (£1m).
Designed by architects Paull and Robinson, Ashton Old Baths was built in 1870 in Italianate style of architecture. Sixty per cent of the building was occupied by the main Swimming Bath. The pool was 100 feet long and 40 feet wide and was used mainly by male bathers, with a three hour period on Thursdays for ladies. There was also a second pool in the eastern, smaller section of the building measuring 27ft long and 15ft wide, solely for the use of female bathers.
Following the acquisition of the building and surrounding area by ASK Developments Ltd, the St Petersfield redevelopment scheme was launched in 2005 via a development agreement with TMBC to provide a new business quarter for Ashton under Lyne. Ashton Old Baths forms a gateway into the St Petersfield area.
In 2013 an application was made to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for funding to develop a business incubation centre at the baths. A subsequent Stage 1 application was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) Heritage Enterprise Programme to secure other match funding to complete works to the internal and external fabric of the building.
A strategic decision was then taken to sell the freehold of Ashton Old Baths to PlaceFirst Ltd. As a result, PlaceFirst Ltd became the applicant for the secured ERDF funding subsequently working in partnership with the Council to deliver the project.
Acting as the project’s Lead Consultant MCAU produced several feasibility studies and also worked in collaboration with Stephen Levrant Heritage Architecture to produce a comprehensive schedule of repairs, necessary to bring the existing building back into use.
The brief was to create 6,500 square feet of workspace within the main pool area for new incubator type companies, together with general amenity space and associated facilities.
The building’s listed status meant dividing up the vast main pool hall would have been the wrong thing to do and a number of key principles were quickly adopted during the feasibility stage of the project.
Using the key criteria and important cultural references a solution quickly evolved where the workspace units adopted the form of a large pod located central to the main pool hall and entirely independent from the existing building’s internal structure.
Phase 1 of the project comprises the former Main Pool Hall and associated ancillary spaces. In the future a Phase 2 Fit-Out will take place and Phase 3 will see the redevelopment of the annex portion of the building.
The exterior of the building has been completely restored and refurbished to preserve the Victorian heritage of the structure. A new self-contained, free-standing office pod provides over 7,000 sq ft of office space over four floors, with additional meeting rooms, breakout spaces, and a new rooftop terrace.
HLF and ERDF funding meant the project had to be delivered by February 2016. PlaceFirst Ltd only bought the building in May 2014 and the refurbishment works were completed in 10 months.
The development is a new office premises aimed at creative and digital industries and offers dark fibre broadband for high performance and incubator services for new start-up companies.
The building now houses one of the most innovative, inventive commercial office spaces in the country, and has preserved the future of arguably the grandest ever example of a Victorian swimming baths.