World Tour of Bath #3 – Southgate…

Ok, seeing the Southgate development was one of the two main reasons for this day trip. A 37,000 m2 retail-based regeneration scheme right next to the train and bus stations in Bath. Designed by Chapman Taylor architects to mimic the Georgian stone architecture of the area. A major scheme with a long and fraught design history.

Overall, after seeing the Thermae Bath Spa development, I wasn’t impressed (oh dear, not a good start!). My overall impression was a painfully conservative and dull development which just doesn’t provide any original ‘story’ in the development of the city centre.

Any place is made up of many individual elements which over time come together to form the existing place. Redevelopment on this scale, which copies what has gone before just doesn’t contribute to the place’s living history.

It also didn’t provide an environment where you would really want to spend time and just be. I found it a bit sterile – for example there was just a single semi-mature plain tree in the main central open space. Fairly tight routes through and some of the detailing was just bizarre.

But having said this, filling in what is a huge area of a world heritage site is an immense task and there were very good reasons why they went down the conservative route. The problem with this is the lack of spirit, or fun, or excitement. It’s just filling in. And don’t get me started on the flagship Mac store materials – not even stone but some creamy/tan render! I feel the Georgian Society really won the day with this development – a massive missed opportunity for a modern take on the modern Bath.

This all sounds like a rant (which it is) but this is one of my passions – the places we live and spend time have a massive impact on us as people.

To leave this on a positive note, I loved the display in the Mac Store window, with the zebras running! Really cool image : ) I also thought most of the materials were good quality and the scale was appropriate. The majority of residents and groups will end up happy with the development.

out

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