Imaginative proposals from University of Liverpool School of Architecture students for the redevelopment of the community-run Withington Baths will be exhibited at Withington Baths and Leisure Centre from July 8, under the title Switch off and Swim.
The ten fictional designs will be on display to the public as renovation work at the Edwardian Building continues, thanks to Heritage Lottery funding and a loan from Manchester City Council.
Emma Curtin, Senior Lecturer at Liverpool School of Architecture, said: “This imaginary project in a real setting was the final project in the student’s architecture degree.
“It gave them the chance to collaborate with an independent community-based client and test ideas about how to work with an existing building. Learning how to use existing buildings and develop them in sustainable ways is increasingly important as we face a climate emergency.
“Students absolutely loved working with a real client. Withington Baths is a special place and exploring the building and seeing what happens there really inspired students to make some exciting work.”
All the projects retain the existing or equivalent leisure facilities, and some introduce more, such as a spa. The projects also include a children’s nursery and some housing on the site. Students considered radical opportunities to improve accessibility. Some focussed on adapting the existing entrance, but others proposed more dramatic changes such as reconfiguring the side of the building where the gym is located, removing the disused pool underneath the gym floor to open up a big space with views and side access from Whitchurch Street.
Liverpool School, of Architecture student, Lance Macadangdang said: “Working with Withington Baths was a valuable experience. The visit to the baths was crucial to identify opportunities that could be addressed and what the baths can become. This has informed the design process with model-making, and discussions with peers and the tutors.
“Participating in this project early in my architectural career has aided my studies and skills towards the qualification for the profession.”
Fellow student, Cameron Hawkins said: “Working with a live client and an existing building provided the opportunity to understand Withington Bath’s particularities and layers of history through various site visits, meetings and research, which lent a realism that was unlike many other academic projects. This led the project to take on a strong social agenda, driven greatly by the community presence exhibited in the formation and on-going work of Withington Baths.
“All in all, it was a fantastic opportunity and a pleasure to contribute a small amount towards the work of preserving a valued community asset.”
Paul Smith, Managing Director of Withington Baths and Leisure Centre, said: “It has been really exciting to see this project come together. The vision of the students and the way they have presented their ideas has been brilliant and we have thoroughly enjoyed working with them.
“Who knows, maybe some of these ideas can become a reality in the future.”
Switch off and Swim will be exhibited at Withington Baths, 30 Burton Road, M20 3EB, from July 8 until August 5 during the Leisure Centre Opening Hours: Weekdays: 6:30am – 10:00pm and Weekends: 9:00am – 5:00pm.