St Martin’s Hospital, Bath

This large hospital complex above Bath’s southern slopes first grew out of the city’s Workhouse in the 1840’s to a ‘hub and spoke’ hexagonal plan. When the Primary Care Trust proposed contracting healthcare on the site, they needed planning permission and listed building consent for residential conversion before being able to bring this development prospect to the market.

It was a challenging prospect; the building is of austere character and needed much alteration and restoration for it to work. One of the main challenges was creating a methodology for assessing and recording these changes over some 800 windows and doors. The scheme also sought to develop the hospital’s former sports grounds. But how best to place new housing next to such a bold symmetrical form which would have been so diminished by a conventional housebuilder’s layout?

This was successfully done by creating a large circular communal green space between the two elements and then deferring to the status of the listed buildings with a ring of four concentric crescents broken by radiating connector roads. The two-storey houses have Bath stone ashlar fronts and rubble stone at the rear, and roofs of natural slate. Despite this high specification and unusual curved plan, the site was bought and built out to a high and faithful standard by one of the national housebuilders.