New terracotta for Bath’s Holburne Museum

I had assumed the Holburne Museum was well outside of the city from what I had seen pictured in green surroundings. In fact I found it on a surprisingly short walk along Great Pultney Street with the elegant neoclassical Museum facing the city and reflecting its Bath stone grandeur. Reopened in May 2011 the museum has been transformed by a 11.2m renovation funded by the Heritage Lottery fund, including the restoration of the Grade I listed building and the construction of a striking glass and terracotta extension. The museum can now display 75% more of its collection.

The designers, Eric Parry Architects, resisted the suggestion that the new terracotta should be ‘bath stone colour’ instead the dark green ceramic and the glass reflect wonderfully the foliage the late 18th century of Sydney Gardens behind. A superb balance is created and despite its unusual and contemporary styling the new design sits back into its surroundings. The ceramic panels and suspended ‘fins’ allow full screening at the top of the wall, through to full transparency of glass at ground floor where the cafe is located.

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The extension is deemed a “triumph” despite controvercy and taking nearly 10 years to jump all of the planning and conservation hoops. I am told as I enter the museum that a recent visitor was so appauled he asked to complain, insisting “I am an architect you know”. Generally, however, it seems the work has been well received, the cafe is bringing in new audiences, it was certainly busy when I was there, and perhaps a few will venture inside to see the collection too.

More info on the AJ site here


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