Redevelopment At Bray Film Studios Celebrates Rich History
|The declining film studios at Bray – famous for its mid-20th century association with Hammer Films – is to be sensitively redeveloped under plans by a:b:i:r architects. The proposals focus on the refurbishment of Down Place the iconic, grade II listed Thames side manor house on the site which will be returned to a private residence with a new build contemporary media centre elsewhere on the site upgrading the production facilities for the 21st century.
The proposals, which were unanimously approved subject to legal agreements by Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead councillors last night also include the replacement of the large volume, unsightly, aging buildings and hardstanding with seven bespoke eco-houses set in extensively reintroduced landscaping.
The master planning of the 2.59Ha site which sits in an area of designated greenbelt on the side of the River Thames close to Windsor focuses on the sites rich history which as well as its association with Hammer Films also includes its role as one of the meeting places for the Kit-Kat club, a 39 man strong group with strong political and literary associations. Portraits of the 39 members still hang today in the National Gallery in London.
Key to the approval of the proposals was the return of Down Place to its original residential use. a:b:i:r architects' early engagement with English Heritage informed much of the overall approach to the masterplan which allied this significant conservation project to a sensitive, contemporary approach elsewhere on the site.
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Down Place was converted to offices and catering facilities during the studios heyday in the mid 20th Century with part of one wing housing a screening theatre complete with projection room (which is to be retained under the proposals). Currently this important and iconic house stands largely vacant with no other obvious future use following the decline of the studio business. The proposals have secured significant investment in the building which will now facilitate its refurbishment and secure its long term future.
The new build residential and media office proposals will help enable the refurbishment of Down Place and result in the demolition and clearance of the existing large studio buildings to the benefit of the openness of the Green Belt and the historic setting and appearance of the Listed Buildings
The media centre, sitting on the southern edge of the site detached from Down Place and the housing, allows the client to maintain his existing business at Bray, retaining an element of employment on site and maintaining the historic link with film, television and media.
Simon Atkins, director of a:b:i:r architects, said: "We engaged with English Heritage and The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead to ensure we fully understood the context of the project. We presented to their Design Review panel who were very supportive of our contextual approach. This gave us the confidence to refine the scheme and we are delighted that the planning committee last night recognised that team effort. We believe these proposal sensitively address the issues of protecting a listed building, safeguarding a significant and contrasting history and improving the quality of the greenbelt."
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