From the ancient parable of the Good Samaritan, to medical tourism and wellness retreats, convalescence and inn-keeping have historically generated built form in our towns and cities.
It’s not surprising that this parable is the frieze depicted on the pediment of the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic diseases, in Bath, a building whose rich history is indistinguishable from the history of Bath. Whilst the era of the city when the hospital was founded included carousing hedonists and gamblers, it was also a place of pilgrimage for taking the waters, seeking cures for many ailments and diseases.
It seems very apt that in looking to convert this to a destination hotel, both the social leisure and medical wellness aspects of Baths mineral water heritage can be brought together in a new enterprise.
For the creative repurposing of what the locals fondly name ‘The Min’, the change of use from hospital to hotel is a sympathetic evolution: this was a building accustomed to providing a healing mineral water experience with the associated hospitality of bed, food and ale rations which, for an upmarket hotel use, is now to be reversed – an unforgettable hotel stay with bar/ restaurant and lounges, enhanced by the spa offers still being considered.
The mineral water treatments, including the weird and the wonderful – now long abandoned, still provided the environment for the development of specialist rheumatic medical care over the centuries, contributing to the significance of this Grade II* Listed building.
This is something that we as the architects, feel strongly that any contemporary wellness offer should aspire to retain and develop upon for its 21st century guests. For the developer, Fragrance Group, they too are looking to differentiate this from other spa offers within the city by including medical spa treatment options as well as medical consultation support.
Public consultation is underway, where new plans entwine a new purpose with the fascinating and significant historical value of the site. New stories join with old. We relish the opportunity to continue the healthy and hospitable narrative – bringing new life, and wellness, to the city.
Our architectural journey continues apace. We are constantly seeking to align and balance the client aspirations with public benefits both for Bath and future generations. Watch this space!