Architecture students transform former Turkish baths

Issue date: 03 November 2016

Architecture students working on Turkish baths

12 UWE Bristol MArch Architecture students camped at the Making Lewes Festival for one week in order to help reopen a former Turkish baths in the centre of Lewes, and transform it into a temporary festival and exhibition venue; a showcase of community re-use. Opening the building's doors to residents of Lewes, the students worked with a range of local people in activities and making workshops.

Now in its third year, the Festival is a community run event that campaigns to promote the exchange of knowledge in the fields of making, architecture, design and sustainability, through talks, workshops and activities.

As part of the transformation, the students worked with TV's William Hardie - from Channel 4 series George Clarke's Amazing Spaces and The Shed of the Year Competition - and journeyed to Foxwood Forestry with owners David and Penny Saunders to gather coppiced wood.

In a collaborative and inclusive process the students ran an informal public consultation on the future of the building, developed and installed a series of coppice and found material interventions into the space, set up marbling and origami workshops, curated and installed exhibitions and built a screen and 40 stools for talks and lectures.

Rachel Sara, Programme Leader MArch Architecture at UWE Bristol, says, “Getting involved in the opening up of the old Turkish baths in Lewes was a great opportunity for students to really make a direct impact on a town. It was wonderful to see students engaging with the wide range of people who came to join in.

“Students led a whole range of activities including paper marbling, origami and stool building - all working towards their ultimate goal of involving the local community in the Making Lewes Festival and in co-creating their own spaces.

“It was an intense time for all concerned, but the experience really foregrounded the University's ambition for the UWE MArch course; to be community connected and engaged in active co-creation.”

Sally Daniels, Co-Director of Tangentfield Design and Build Studio, who helped develop the link between the University and the Festival, says, ““The Making Lewes' design and build workshop was a memorable week, where the students took on, with unbelievable gusto, the huge task of juggling many activities.

Experimenting with every resource they could lay their hands on (including the carpet tiles), the students, alongside the academics, examined the highs and lows of the process, cooked great food and camped through more rain than shine in order to create a very special festival venue.”

Samuel Hold, MArch Architecture student at UWE Bristol, said, “I would recommend the Festival to anyone. Go and visit, take part and see what it is to be a community! I will definitely be back.”

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