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RPS Photography Centre

Part 1 Project 2008
Robert Grover
University of Bath, UK
In 2005 the Royal Photographic Society was displaced from the centre of Bath and now occupies an anonymous building in the city’s suburbs. The proposal seeks to create a new building that offers a variety of spaces for archives, exhibition, education and work as well as establishing a new public identity for the society.

The design explores the link between architecture and photography by exploring the two opposing themes of permanence and instance. The proposal looks a creating a transition between lightness and ethereality to solidity and permanence describing the photographic process of capturing an instance and preserving it eternally.

Robert Grover

The final undergraduate project at Bath runs for a full semester and affords each student the opportunity to develop their own project brief, consistent with the theme for the Studio. Every student is also responsible for identifying their own site, which must meet certain given criteria, and which lies within a given locale.

The theme for this year’s studio dealt with the development of the City of Bath within its existing boundaries. The emphasis was therefore on creating greater density within an existing urban boundary and an historic building environment. Additional themes, common to all final year projects, were the exploration of materiality and integration of sustainability within the final design.

Robert identified a particularly unusual and challenging site. His urban response, whilst outwardly simply, successfully resolved a series of existing and problematic urban conditions. Robert adopted Bath’s Royal Photographic Society as his client (currently displaced from the city centre) and developed a bespoke brief to meet their current and future needs.

Photography as a subject provided Robert with a rich series of themes to act as inspiration for, and as a counterpoint to, his architectural response. With each iteration of the design process Robert refined and honed his building into a coherent and compelling spatial hierarchy. This spatial sequence was developed in tandem with the building’s associated tectonic and environmental themes.

The result was a design which is exceptional in its maturity and modesty. The student brought to bear his considerable aesthetic judgement at each stage of the project, refining and editing his propositions with extraordinary discipline and control for a Part One student. Throughout the course Robert has engaged with design through engagement with materials and the making process, and once again this project exhibits his concern with, and knowledge of, architecture as a built artifact.

This project was considered by all at Bath to exemplify the ethos of the School in aspiring to the highest design standards, rooted in the application of technical excellence, cultural awareness and the use of independent creative imagination.

Mr Alex Wright
Mr Terry Robson
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