THE GAINSBOROUGH HOTEL AND SPA, BATH
Work to restore and develop Gainsborough Hotel in Bath with the Osborne Property Group began Archer Humphryes' long-term association with the group and deep connection with the city. Trevor Osborne has been instrumental in the evolution of the practice, providing many initial important projects. Bath a traditional spa towns, with thermal baths from mineral hot springs- a main component of the site was using the pure extracted aqua reputed since Victorian times to have healing qualities. The architects were able to plan complex treatment suites in the hotel incorporating the waters taking thousands of years to bubble through the water table purified. With their knowledge of emerging spas across the world were able to be informative, directing the client with imaginative ideas with the use of water in the hotel in a rational ordered approach to redefining the place today.
The city of Bath, an enduring 'wellness' destination for over 2,000 years and today, The Gainsborough Hotel and Spa, continues the tradition. From the 1820s, John Pinch’s design ‘The Gainsborough’ (renamed later after Sir Thomas Gainsborough, the famed Victorian society portrait and landscape artist who lived and worked in Bath) began as the United Hospital where thermal waters were used medicinally. Excavation in 1864 revealed several rooms belonging to an ancient complex that included the remains of an intricate Roman mosaic dating back to the 4th century. Remaining preserved, it sits beneath as an exact replica within the spa. In 2007 a Roman hoard comprised of 17,500 coins was discovered amongst the foundations. Now with the British Museum, the hoard dates from 32 BC to 270 AD and is amongst the largest coin hoards yet discovered in Britain.
Demands upon this landmark site were technically onerous. A commission with water extraction for the spa without disturbing the equilibrium of the subterranean Roman complex was something the architects had become experts at through the association with Buxton and the clients. Set in the heart of this historic city, The Gainsborough Bath Spa is a collection of three listed buildings. The Gainsborough and Bellotts are each distinguished by their Georgian façades and Hetling House, an Elizabethan building.
Sensitive restoration, connection to adjacent properties and new designs for additions to the historic premises to create a viable hotel was where the project began. A 'state of the art' interior meeting expectations of the discerning luxury lifestyle industry and remaining authentic to its context in Bath was the desire of the client. Producing a subtle architecture, which sits harmoniously within the historic fabric of a heritage site, was foremost in the architect’s minds and the city’s. The new detached building sitting alongside the old reformed architecture created a hundred rooms was an achievement that met with English Heritage’s approval. Dramatically, a spa pool within an atrium of a new glazed courtyard is the centrepiece that suspends the old and new, framing the city through the windows as the backdrop to the serenity of the spa.