We were thrilled to be part of the celebrations at the Sydney Gardens Gala on the 23rd of October. It has truly been a privilege to be part of the team which delivered such a fantastic scheme for the local community.
As a local practice within a literal ‘stone’s throw’ from Sydney Gardens, our team has a great affinity with this project; from picnics on the lawns, waiting for a toot from the trains on one of the bridges over the railway, listening to Samba rhythms during the carnival, getting some practice on the tennis courts during Wimbledon, cycling through on the way to the canal, tobogganing down the slopes in the snow, or just stopping to think and to breathe; we were all well aware that Sydney Gardens provides this, and more. As a result, throughout the project we have appreciated and considered Sydney Garden’s history, its heritage; its significance; and were excited by the potential and future that our work was able to provide.
We were appointed as lead Architect, principal designer and contract administrators for the technical design and delivery (RIBA stages 4-7), by Bath & North East Somerset Council in 2019 (following a successful planning application by others). The scheme has included the restoration of the Grade II structures (including the Temple of Minerva, Loggia and the Edwardian toilets), an extension to provide a new Community Pavilion, and extensive landscape works including, a new multi-age playground, sports areas and petanque courts. Collaboration with the large design team was vital, which included local Landscape Architects Greenhalgh.
The site provided numerous challenges for the design team such as the bridges over the Kennet & Avon Canal and Railway lines, Ecology (a bat roost within the Listed Temple of Minerva) and Roman Archaeology. A stand-out moment in the project was the ‘find’ of a rare ancient Roman stone sarcophagus, containing two burials was unearthed during the dig.
The Sydney Gardens restoration project was a partnership between B&NES’s Parks Team, The Friends of Sydney Gardens, local residents’ groups and the Holburne Museum. The partnership secured a total of £3.4m in funding to improve the historic park, including £2.75m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in February 2019. The restoration project in Sydney Gardens took place from February 2019 to December 2022.
Bath & North East Somerset Council’s vision was to: “Revitalise Sydney Gardens as a beautiful Pleasure Garden with peaceful and tranquil spaces, that achieves a renaissance as a unique, fun and restorative environment, for all ages; – its remarkable built and natural heritage, people and events, told and experienced in witty and eclectic ways.” We are thrilled that the project has delivered this brief and we are looking forward to enjoying the revitalised Gardens in the years to come.