It has been incredibly important to us to ensure the stadium complements the architecture of Bath without mimicking it. Mindful of this, our architects are looking to the same influences as our Georgian predecessors.
In 1987 UNESCO inscribed the City of Bath as a World Heritage Site, and in 2021 the City received a second inscription as one of the Great Spa Towns of Europe.
The World Heritage Site status neither prohibits change within the City, nor prescribes a contemporary design aesthetic. There is an opportunity for Stadium for Bath to contribute architecturally and complement the existing cityscape, together with a significant cultural, social and economic contribution to the City.
The proposal for Stadium for Bath is founded on enduring principles of good design – form, siting, materials, order, scale and experience.
Stadium for Bath will preserve the City’s physical heritage assets and enable the City to continue to be a thriving destination, with iconic modern architecture inspiring future generations.
Bath’s World Heritage status is underpinned by core principles known as Outstanding Universal Values (OUVs). Key considerations for the OUVs include Roman and Georgian Bath, recreation and enjoyment, harmonious architecture, and the integration of urban design and the landscape.
The design team have consulted extensively with key stakeholders, including Historic England, to ensure that detailed consideration of the OUVs has informed the design process. This has informed the form of the building, the public realm setting, the emerging uses alongside matchday, cultural contributions, and the setting within the city bowl.
The project team continue to engage with Historic England and UNESCO. The Georgian city reflects the ambitions of John Wood, the Elder (1704-1754) and other leading architects in Bath to make the city into one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with architecture and landscape combined harmoniously for the enjoyment of the spa town’s cure takers.
The influence of Palladio on John Wood, the Elder and more widely in Bath is profound and resonates throughout Bath’s architecture. Key themes include symmetry and divine harmonic proportion in both urban planning and architecture, in the development of set pieces within the city and the design of individual buildings, together with the reimagining of antiquity. The use of columns and colonnades, recessive spaces which provide contrasting tones as the light animates the stone facades of Bath, are also prominent themes in the city.
Edinburgh Academicals stadium (Credit: Michael Laird Architects. Credit: Chris Humphreys photographer.)
The design team has from the outset sought to respect the scale and rhythm of existing urban planning, architecture and structures whilst also contributing to picturesque views.
Another core principle has been to develop a civic building, set within the pubic realm in a manner consistent with set pieces in Bath, defined as much by their setting within public spaces and their relationship with existing architecture, as by the built form.
The design team’s approach includes the consideration of the roof as a fundamental element of the design (considered to be the ‘third primary elevation’ given its importance in distant views), together with the key role it plays operationally and in matchday experience.
The roofscape of the city has therefore also been an important consideration and influence.
Other cities and examples of contemporary design which have succeeded in heritage settings have also been researched.
The example shown above of the Edinburgh Academicals (“Accies”) stadium designed by Michael Laird Architects, provides an example of a successful approach in terms of design, architecture and tone.
The contemporary design of the stadium sits respectfully amongst the Georgian architecture of Edinburgh. Further cues have also been taken from the Outstanding Universal Values pertaining to Bath’s 2021 World Heritage designation as one of the Great Spa Towns of Europe, and from the council’s guidance in terms of design values.
Great Spas of Europe World Heritage Site Statement of Outstanding Universal Value
B&NES Core Strategy & Place Making Plan Vol 2, Policy BD1 – Design Values