This week we continue our NDA Student Guest Blog Series with current BA (Hons) Heritage Interior Design degree student, Claire Truman. Claire will be discussing how the skills she’s learnt whilst studying with the NDA have been applied to her latest architectural project, the recently opened Grade II listed Gainsborough Hotel in Bath.
Introducing BA (Hons) Heritage Interior Design degree student, Claire Truman:
National Design Academy student Claire Truman is currently studying on our BA (Hons) Heritage Interior Design degree programme. She is an Architect and RIBA Conservation Registrant, and has a successful blog that focuses on the sensitive and intelligent re-use of heritage buildings.
Claire’s latest Heritage Project: The Grade II listed Gainsborough Hotel
I am delighted to be invited to offer a contribution to the NDA blog. Over the last decade I have developed a keen interest in the challenges of the creative and sensitive re-use of heritage buildings and the treatment of their interiors.
The interior designers worked alongside EPR Architects to deliver the proposed plan design, converting the existing collection of five Grade II listed buildings into a five-star spa hotel, whilst preserving the building’s original features.
The grade II listed building is steeped in both history and heritage, originally designed by John Pinch it is situated in the heart of the historic city of Bath. In the 1820’s it housed Bath’s United Hospital and in the 1930’s-2005 the building was home to the Bath Technical College.
As the design of the scheme progressed in 2011/2012 I increasingly wanted to experience life in the shoes of an Interior Designer! So when I came across the National Design Academy’s BA (Hons) Heritage Interior Design Degree course I was excited as it offered exactly what I was looking for – a professionally recognised distance-learning course in my area of interest.
Studying with the NDA alongside simultaneously working on the Gainsborough has provided the opportunity to re-engage with some rusty creative skills, which I believe enhanced my contribution to the project. I developed a deeper understanding of the interior designer’s role and their approach to the design process.
My space-planning skills have also been particularly influenced and now I can anticipate more readily how an interior designer considers the use of space. I also have a greater understanding of the ‘end product’; the potential impact of the finishes on the substrates, for example, are more recognisable, and any knowledge gaps between consultants can be identified to head off potential construction challenges. I was also able to draw on my experience with listed buildings.
The Gainsborough is the first hotel in the UK that offers a natural thermal spa, and also features 99 custom finished guest rooms and suites, a restaurant, private dining room, lounge and banqueting facilities.
The beautiful spa design boasts 11 treatment rooms, natural thermal water pools, saunas, an ice chamber, a fitness centre and steam room whilst the pool sits below a new two-storey glass atrium roof that forms an internal courtyard.
I was also able to more quickly assess the ID proposals against the architectural and heritage parameters and offer alternative solutions appropriate to their overall vision. The design process became more fluid and informed. This aided negotiation and resolution of details on-site with the conservation officer which was particularly useful when the local authority’s time is limited, and the interior designers were not able to be present.
The ‘technical’ content of the BA (Hons) Heritage Interior Design Degree course – the use of traditional materials and specialist construction skills – has been a vehicle for personal research into areas that inform my project work. This opened up conversations I might not have previously initiated with specialist suppliers and skilled trades people.
I am particularly grateful to Hare & Humphreys for their time and for the experience of visiting their works on-site at the Grade I listed Cornwall Terrace, Regent’s Park. Nothing can substitute seeing skills in practice and there I witnessed marbling, stencilling, gold leaf application and trompe l’oeil.
The creative re-use and successful re-habitation of heritage buildings demands a range of skills and their continual development. The National Design Academy has identified the very real need to address these requirements in this more specialist field, and I can fully recommend the course. Ultimately I hope to bring together my architecture skills with my awakened interiors’ knowledge to realise a complete heritage scheme.
I hope you have enjoyed my guest blog post for the National Design Academy, if you are interested in the re-use of heritage buildings then please visit my blog www.progressiveheritage.wordpress.com for further information or for further coverage of my projects, or please share this blog post if you enjoyed it.
Join us next time as we continue our guest blogger series. Don’t forget, you can submit your questions and topics you want our guest blog series to include by either posting your comments below or posting your questions on our Facebook page wall or tweet your questions on Twitter using the hashtag #NDABLOGGER.