Bathaus Public Launch
On Friday 20th October, two of FPCR’s team members went to the launch of the Loughborough University Bathaus, as part of the Fruit Routes Harvest Festival which celebrates nature on campus. The Bathaus is a public artwork and display space and home to a maternity colony of brown long-eared bats. Associate Ecologist Daniel Foster led the ecological works on the site and together with the University invited a number of architecture companies to design a scheme of public art whilst protecting the colony of bats residing in an abandoned 19th century cottage. FPCR’s expert ecological advice led the protection of the bats whilst helping deliver the needs of the project.
Loughborough University is home to one of the UK’s largest science and enterprise parks which has expanded significantly since the University acquired the site. As part of the redevelopment plans FPCR were commissioned to undertake bat surveys on the old and abandoned cottage, to prepare the Natural England bat licence and to supervise site works. Surveys recorded 34 brown long-eared bats roosting within the loft space as well as low numbers of common pipistrelle. The brown long-eared maternity roost is long established with records of the roost in this building dating back to 1995.
Therefore, rather than design a new build, Studio Weave – a London based architecture practice – proposed to adapt the existing structure to the needs of its residents. They refer to this project as a “curated reduction” – rather than provide a new roosting structure the teams decided instead to carve away sections of the building that were no longer needed. New roosting structures can come with risks and so the final design chosen preserved the existing roosting areas whilst revitalising and strengthening the memory and physical narrative of the place. The functions and materials which were no longer necessary were removed, whilst additional elements will be added to emphasise and support the building’s future needs, both for the resident bats and their human neighbours. Ongoing monitoring of the Bathaus shows the maternity colony is still in residence.
After a visit to the Bathaus by students, the town’s Mayor and local residents, a panel of guests gave talks about the project led by Nick Slater, Director – LU Arts (Loughborough University); Daniel Foster, Associate Ecologist, FPCR Environment and Design Ltd spoke about the project itself; Angelena Efstathiou, Ecologist, FPCR Environment and Design Ltd gave a talk on general bat ecology; Jo Shields, Sustainability Manager, Campus Services (Loughborough University) spoke about the work Loughborough University are doing for biodiversity on campus and Je Ahn, Studio Weave spoke about the design of the building and the inspiration behind it.