Situated in a stunning grade 2 listed building in a prime location on Milson Street, central Bath, Paperchase has always been a highly regarded retail store. It was the original prototype for the initial design concept implemented by Made In Place in the Manchester flagship store back in 1997 and one of the first Paperchase stores in the UK.
Having worked intimately with the Grade 2 listed building for previous designs over the past 25 years, we knew the store was hiding some wonderful architecture behind the established shop fitting systems and when the opportunity came to fully refurbish the store back to it’s original character, we were very excited.
As with all our listed building projects, we researched the original building and soon established that it must have been two buildings joined together. In a past life it was probably an artisan business with a small house and shop at the front, a court yard in the middle and probably a coach house at the rear; both the front and rear had significant basements with an access point at both ends, with the rear being a whole storey lower than the front. During the works we were even approached by an order of nuns who had documented evidence of the building and its original use.
The rear coach house had at some point in its past had a mezzanine floor installed and having persuaded the Bath listed building officer that this could not have possibly been original, we were granted permission to remove it returning the rear coach house part to its former double height.
The building is constructed from Bath Stone and elements of this remain visible on the ground floor around the stairwell serving the basement. Existing window openings around the stairs serving the basement were reinstated which would have originally presented themselves on to the central courtyard area; elements of floor around the staircase were removed and glass panels and lighting installed to highlight a previously hidden stone staircase. An area of floor was also removed and lighting installed to reveal part of the structure with views into the basement.
Following on from the design principles we set and continue to use in many other Paperchase stores; by looking at the architecture of each shop individually, we set out to prove what could be done with the challenging space.
By stripping the listed building back to its original structure, we not only exposed hidden architectural beauty and fascinating workmanship, but also managed to find a 15% increase in sales floor area, increasing sales performance by some 25%. Despite initial resistance, the local authority appreciate our achievement, as do the local architects, press and our client, Paperchase.