Internationally-acclaimed designers and engineers debated innovative ways of working with old buildings at Bath Abbey last Thursday. Architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and engineers Buro Happold took over the medieval building for the day. Keynote speakers included Eric Parry and Steve Tompkins, of Haworth Tompkins who talked about the power of using space for temporary theatre and culture where the building becomes part of the performance.
A canopy of almost invisible wires stretched across the nave, a church full of people wearing great white face masks and a singing lesson were just three of the interludes which punctuated the day of talks. The soaring fan vaults and graceful arches of this beautiful church provided more than just a backdrop: they were part of the event itself.
Other speakers came from the Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Modern, theatre designers Charcoal Blue and radical public realm designers MUF architects. Alice Dietsch from Amanda Levete Architects talked about innovation in the new Boilerhouse site on Exhibition Road while Geoff Rich of FCBS, who are currently working at project leaders on the Abbey’s Redevelopment Project, described their ambitions to bring underfloor heating to the Abbey courtesy of the great hot springs in the adjacent Roman Baths.
Peter Clegg said:
"We managed to pull off quite a challenge: the venue was spectacular and we really made the most of it with specially commissioned art, music and lighting. The speakers were first class. It was a day to be proud of and I think it is up there with the best of all FCBS and Buro Happold events."