Austin-Smith:Lord To Transform Grade II Listed Convent Into 5* Hotel
Austin-Smith:Lord are delighted to announce our appointment to provide architecture, conservation, landscape and interior design services on the Grade II listed Woodchester Convent in Gloucestershire.
The historic Cotswold stone convent was founded in 1860 when a group of 16 nuns settled in an old farmhouse on the Woodchester Estate of William Leigh. The nuns were attracted by the Catholic community that Leigh aimed to create and followed the construction of a Dominican priory nearby. Between 1861 and 1869 architect Charles Hansom, who had already drawn up plans for the Priory and Mansion with Benjamin Bucknall, constructed the convent building, with a chapel, and an orphanage, retaining the original house at its core.
At its peak, the convent housed 30 nuns and provided a work-room and equipment for women of the neighbour to undertake contract work for a local clothing factory. By the time of its 150th anniversary in 2011, the convent was occupied by only five remaining sisters who struggled to maintain the extensive site. Since then, the future of the aging buildings has been uncertain, with water ingress, dry rot and structural failure setting in.
Austin-Smith:Lord’s multi-disciplinary design will transform the stunning complex into a unique 5* star hotel with bedrooms, bar, lounge and library, while the chapel will be conserved to create a beautiful events venue.
On the site of the orphanage, which was demolished in 1970, a contemporary new wellness centre will provide a restorative haven drawing inspiration from the shapes, forms and materials palette of the heritage buildings.
The 25 acres of grounds, set within the beautiful Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will host small guest cottages influenced by the local vernacular, and an elegant new orangery function room enjoying unrivalled views across the Nailsworth Valley.
Design work is underway on this exciting commission. Each of our in-house disciplines will bring their expertise to the project, drawing on our experience of conceiving innovative adaptive re-use of historic buildings in historic landscapes. The hotel design will conserve and celebrate the historic fabric and the patina that has accumulated over the convent’s life. The new buildings will apply the highest quality contemporary design to the historic and natural setting. Once completed it will be one of most iconic and unique resorts in the Cotswolds.