Architects chosen for Fashion Museum Bath

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B&NES has chosen the award-winning architectural firm 6a architects to realise the vision of creating Bath’s new Fashion Museum.

It will be the only museum in the UK dedicated to the history and heritage of British fashion, and will showcase more of the internationally-renowned Bath Fashion Museum Collection, appeal to tourists and locals alike and deliver significant cultural, educational, economic, and regenerative impact.

The landmark project will see 6a architects preserve and transform Bath’s Grade II listed Old Post Office into a state-of-the-art 21st-century cultural institution housing museum galleries and learning spaces, and serving as a hub for local, national, and international communities. 

Bath & North East Somerset Council chose 6a as the architects to take the project forward following an open competition that attracted worldwide interest.  

Sophie McKinlay, Project Lead, for Fashion Museum Bath, said:  

6a has an exceptional creative vision matched with an outstanding track record for reimagining historic cultural spaces. I have no doubt 6a will be the perfect partners to deliver something very special for the Fashion Museum.  

We’re excited to work together on our vision to create spaces which inspire our visitors, celebrate our extraordinary collection of historic dress, and welcome the community to engage with the transformative power of fashion. 

Stephanie Macdonald and Tom Emerson co-founded 6a Architects in 2001, and the London based studio has since won an international reputation for its award-winning projects with a specialism for sensitively transforming historic spaces. Previous projects include new gallery spaces at Tate Liverpool, MK Gallery, the South London Gallery, and Centre for Arts, Research and Alliances, New York. 

Tom Emerson, 6a architects, said:  

We are delighted to be selected to design the Fashion Museum Bath. Fashion, re-use, museums, and galleries have been central to our practice, and we look forward to bringing these threads together in this ambitious project. The Fashion Museum’s collection, just like the architecture of Bath, is an incredible source of inspiration and we are excited to work with the museum team to bring it to the broadest of audiences. 

The new museum is a key part of Bath and North East Somerset Council’s plan to provide a further boost to the visitor economy in central Bath. As an anchor element of the Milsom Quarter Masterplan, it will help ‘reimagine the high street’ in the city centre and encourage commercial tenants and residents to move to and use the Milsom Quarter.

Councillor Paul Roper, Cabinet Member for Economic & Cultural Sustainable Development, said:

The creation of our new Fashion Museum is of national and international significance. This is reflected in the outstanding architectural practices who tendered for this project. This is going to be a new, world class institution in a UNESCO World Heritage City and there is huge excitement that, at long last, we will be able to display our unique and outstanding fashion collection in a location and setting that it fully deserves. 

The new museum is a key part of our plan to develop a creative centre in central Bath and provide a further boost to the visitor economy. As an anchor element of the Milsom Quarter Masterplan, the museum will enhance footfall and dwell time in the area and increase the desirability of the city centre.   Engaging 6a is a significant next step in realising the Fashion Museum and I look forward to seeing 6a’s vision.

The appointment of architects 6a marks the start of the next chapter in the Fashion Museum’s story, as design work begins with an anticipated reopening in 2030. 

For the latest project updates, news, and events, sign up for the newsletter at www.fashionmuseum.co.uk or follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, and X.

About Fashion Museum Bath 

A stunning new Museum will be created in the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath. It will be the only museum in the UK dedicated to the history and heritage of fashion.

Through exhibitions, displays, a global lending programme, and new education and communal public spaces, Fashion Museum Bath will deliver opportunities for audiences to engage with, learn about, be inspired by, and share their experiences of fashion, past, present and future.

The new museum will:

  • Provide flexible exhibition spaces to display more of the internationally renowned Bath Fashion Museum Collection* than ever before.  
  • Showcase a changing programme of exhibitions from our own Collection and other major museums. 
  • Reveal dedicated and accessible spaces for innovative learning and engagement including lectures, workshops, events, school visits, and residencies. 
  • Offer café and retail areas. 
  • Offer commercial venue hire opportunities outside of core public hours. 
  • Support the creative industries by offering career pathways, talent development pipelines, and partnerships. 
  • Be an exciting and accessible welcoming space for all – the ‘Museum on the High Street’ relevant for all ages and reducing barriers for those who have not engaged with heritage before. 
  • Establish a landmark cultural asset, free to local residents and uniting local, national and international communities through creative activities linked to fashion.

*Bath Fashion Museum Collection: The designated Collection is one of the world’s greatest museum collections of historical and contemporary adult and children’s fashion containing 100,000 objects dating from the 1600s to the present day. It was gifted to the city by Doris Langley Moore in 1959 and has grown in volume and reputation ever since. Today it is valued as one of the most complete histories of British dress and underpins major fashion exhibitions worldwide. In 2023 1.3m people saw Fashion Museum objects on loan.  

The Old Post Office: The Old Post Office is the only Grade II listed twentieth-century building in the centre of Bath.   The project will bring back to life this key heritage building that has fallen into disrepair and will be designed as an exemplar of environmentally sustainable retrofit. The Old Post Office offers up to 3500sqm of space for the Museum whilst the old space at the Assembly Rooms allowed only 1500 sqm. This will be a transformational change in scale.

TimingsIt is anticipated that construction will start on site in 2027 and that the new museum will open in Autumn 2030. 

Milsom Quarter Masterplan: The museum is a key part of Bath and North East Somerset Council’s regeneration plan to reimagine central Bath to create a destination for fashion and culture. It is an anchor element of the Milsom Quarter Masterplan to make the area a great place to live, work and socialise.

For more information on the Milsom Quarter Masterplan, and the other projects underway see our video and website.  

About 6a Architects

6a architects is considered one of the most consistently original, multi-award winning and popular architectural practices today. Over the last twenty years, 6a has produced critically acclaimed projects combining arts, fashion and culture with sustainability and re-use. Construction has started on the transformation of Tate Liverpool in the Grade 1 Listed Royal Albert Dock to recapture the scale of the River Mersey and energy of Liverpool’s waterfront into the heart of the museum. The new Tate Liverpool will offer a new open public space connecting the waterside warehouse with the people of Liverpool. Heated and cooled with water from the docks, Tate Liverpool is a key part of a wider green transition of the city’s waterfront.

6a architects’ work is popular with the public and critics alike. Known for integrating innovative material and ecological strategies, their work carefully transforms significant heritage sites into places accessible to all. Referred to as architect detectives they weave together multiple voices and narratives into new and meaningful contemporary architecture.

6a architects has received many prestigious awards, including regional and national RIBA Awards, nomination for the Stirling Prize in 2017, the 2023 Tessenow Gold Medal and the Observer Building of Year on several occasions. 6a’s founders received OBE’s in the 2021 New Years Honours list and were elected Royal Academicians in 2023. 6a‘s work is widely published with monographs by El Croquis in 2017 and A+U in 2022. In 2020, the Italian magazine Domus included 6a in the 50 Best Architects in the World. 

The practice works globally with projects in Sweden, Australia, USA, Germany, Greece and the UK. 6a’s projects have been praised for finding simple and elegant solutions to complex settings and their subtle attention to detail. Working at the intersection of sustainable construction and adaptive re-use, the practice seeks innovative designs to address climate and societal change.

6a’s work has included some of the most complex and sensitive heritage settings in the UK. Raven Row (Listed Grade 1), South London Gallery (Listed Grade 2), became models of adaptive re-use offering wider access to the galleries’ arts and education programmes. Other recent projects have included a new pioneering low-energy building at Churchill College, University of Cambridge which was named the city’s Best New Large Building in 2017 and two riverside residential towers in Hamburg as part of HafenCity, Europe’s largest inner-city waterfront redevelopment. In 2022, 6a completed the Center for Art, Research and Alliances (CARA), a new charitable foundation addressing equity in the arts and housed in a protected industrial building in New York.

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