The benefactors of Ladywell Playtower baths built them in 1884 response to the Public Health Acts of 1848 and 1875. They were one of the first public swimming pools in the country.

They attracted thousands of local people in their prime, but they closed following a serious fire in 2006 and had since fallen into disrepair. We worked for Goldsmiths University of London, one of four potential new owners of the site. Our role was to prepare proposals for the conversion of the existing building into a new arts department for the University. Our idea was to create small, yet important, interventions in the existing fabric of the Listed Building. There was also a significant new rear extension at basement, ground and first floors, housing additional artist’s studios.

Parts of the building were available for the local community, including a new double-storey café in the heart of the plan. We imagined a new public thoroughfare, providing a shortcut for existing residents that would help animate the gardens. A second phase, comprising new-build development in the open space between the Ladywell Playtower and Coroner’s Court, helped provide additional finances to repair the listed fabric.