Locksbrook campus

Transforming the former Herman Miller factory into Bath Spa University’s new art and design campus

The University will now play a significant part in revitalising this Grade II listed building, and creating a new history for this iconic building.

The building will provide a state-of-the-art learning environment for the University’s art and design students and plans include modern teaching facilities, practical workshops, studios, a gallery space, as well as a café and art shop. A new rooftop pavilion will add a third storey to the building providing additional space for reflective and collaborative project working.

The outside of the building will also undergo major refurbishment and an injection of cash is being put towards a landscaping project which will see the area surrounding the site being significantly enhanced and upgraded.

The construction will be completed in the summer of 2019 and students will start to use the building from September 2019.

Developments and updates

Our plans


The factory building was designed by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw for Herman Miller, the American furniture manufacturers in 1976.

It is our goal to create an environment that:

  • Encourages an open community and fortuitous encounter
  • Welcomes all
  • Is kind to the user
  • Changes with grace
  • Is person-scaled
  • Is subservient to human activity
  • Forgives mistakes in planning
  • Enables this community (in the sense that an environment can), to continually reach towards its potential
  • Is a contribution to the landscape as an aesthetic and human value
  • Meets the needs we perceive
  • Is open to surprise
  • Is comfortable with conflict
  • Has flexibility, is non-precious and non-monumental

In our planning we should know that:

  • Our needs will change
  • The scale of the operation will change
  • Things about us will change
  • We will change

The site has always been a place of ‘making’ and the University will continue that tradition through our philosophy of thinking through making. The building was designed as an adaptable space that can ‘change with grace’ to meet the needs of its users, so this project will give it a new purpose.

As a factory used by Herman Miller, it is part of Bath’s industrial history. Bath School of Art and Design plays a significant part in Bath’s creative industries and so will create a new history for this iconic building.


We have appointed Grimshaw Architects to design the building, which is especially fitting because they designed the original and understand its structure, heritage, significance and potential.

Below is a proposal for how the building will be used inside. This design idea called the 'making spine,' features fixed workshops with studio space surrounding them. On the ground floor there will also be some shared, open spaces and some offices.

A first floor mezzanine will run along three sides of the building, maximising space and with ample headroom for studios. The architects are designing a space that will be adaptable to meet the changing needs of our Bath School of Art and Design as we develop. It is therefore essential that the building allows us to be flexible in our use of the space available.


We are working with the Council on our plans to convert the former furniture factory, and we hope to begin building work in the summer of 2017.

Latest news

Bolt tightening ceremony marks milestone in transformation of former Herman Miller Factory

Bolt tightening ceremony at Locksbrook Road

Students and senior staff from Bath Spa University and Willmott Dixon celebrate reaching significant milestone in the refurbishment of the Grade II listed building.

With students due to start using the building in just under a year’s time, Bath Spa University’s Executive Dean of Bath School of Art and Design, Professor Anita Taylor, Vice-Chancellor Professor Sue Rigby, Chief Operating Officer, Neil Latham, and current student Gemma Connor joined representatives from the project’s construction company, Willmott Dixon, to sign one of the steel beams and conduct a ceremonial bolt tightening to mark the next phase of the transformation of the iconic former Herman Miller factory to provide new facilities for the Bath School of Art and Design.

With the original features being retained, the project has seen the careful restoration of over 300 exterior panels and the construction of a new mezzanine floor and rooftop pavilion.

Once complete, the restored building will provide a variety of flexible, stimulating and adaptable spaces for students and staff to learn and work, purposefully aligned to Herman Miller’s original and iconic ‘Bath Brief’ for the building.

Paul Lacy, Operations Manager of Willmott Dixon said: ‘With 36 weeks to go on the project, this was a great opportunity to celebrate with the University, our supply chain partners and consultants, the work we have completed together so far. As a grade II listed building, this has included the careful restoration of many of the original features, including the iconic façade.

“We have also extended our work into the local community, providing opportunities for 14 apprentices and delivering over 117 hours of work experience. Community engagement is an integral part of every project we undertake at Willmott Dixon and this will continue as move into the next phase of the project.’’

Professor Taylor commented: “It’s wonderful to be able to mark this milestone in the project, and we are very much looking forward to watching the building come back to life over the next few months. This is an important development in the history of the Bath School of Art and Design, and one that will help bring together our talented students and staff, and enhance the relationship we have with the community and local businesses. We look forward to welcoming the public to this exciting space and to reinforcing our relationship with the flourishing art and design community in the region.”

The construction will be completed in the summer of 2019, with students starting to use the building in September 2019.

Unique project created for hoardings on Locksbrook Campus

Artwork on hoarding boards by Tim Vyner

Whilst development at Locksbrook Campus is well underway, a unique project has also taken place on the hoardings surrounding the site.

Tim Vyner, Bath Spa University’s Senior Lecturer in Illustration, and a team of the University’s alumni have created the longest mural in the South West to give passers-by something different to look at as they walk past the worksite.

The iconic former Herman Miller building, located along the Bath riverside, is being transformed into the University’s new campus for the Bath School of Art and Design, and having used the theme of ‘work’, Tim has captured the essence of the building’s industrial past and creative future.

“I wanted to use the hoardings to celebrate both the building’s history as a place of work and industry, and its future as an innovative space for students to thrive through making,” said Tim.

“I looked through archive photos from the time the factory floor was in use, alongside the current studios and workshops at Sion Hill and the Bath at Work Museum’s collection. These enabled me to create a series of industrial drawings that show the range of machinery and work places that have been used and will continue to be used there.

“The large-scale artworks were all created by hand, using industrial gloss paint on marine ply boards – these materials were chosen for durability but also to show the drawings were made by hand and not simply enlarged on a computer. The completed hoardings measure 160m in total, so it was a lot of work, but it was a great project to be part of.”

Artwork created for hoarding boards

The fourth side of the hoarding was produced by Bath Spa graduates. Carl Godfrey, Tom Goldsworthy, David Gordon, Lucy Harper and Rebecca Bagley impressed the judges of a competition run by the Bath School of Art and Design with their brief that followed the theme of ‘work and industrial heritage’.

They proposed adorning the hoarding with advertising posters that have been used over the years by companies based in the city, and then adapted the brief to include the range of work produced by students of the School over the years. These included Degree Show posters, student competitions, public exhibitions and individual projects celebrating fine art, graphic design, illustration, photography, textiles and ceramics.

Carl, who graduated in 2014 with a BA in Graphic Communication, added: “It’s been fantastic to be involved in this project with Tim. It’s not often you get to work on such a large scale, on such a public facing piece of work, so it was a challenge but one that I really enjoyed.

“Our intention was to really represent all the inventive, industrious people and companies who have worked in and established themselves in Bath, and nod to the exciting future of the building and all the amazing artists who will develop in their time here.”

Bath Spa University appoint Willmott Dixon to transform the former Herman Miller factory building

Architectural rendering of the internal space in Bath Spa University's Locksbrook Road campus on the site of the former Herman Miller factory, showing workshops in use on the first floor mezzanine.

Bath Spa University has appointed leading construction company Willmott Dixon to transform the former Herman Miller factory building on Locksbrook Road into a new art and design campus for its Bath School of Art and Design.

The new building will provide a state-of-the-art learning environment for the University’s art and design students.

Professor Anita Taylor, Executive Dean of Bath School of Art and Design, said: “Heritage, environmental solutions and sustainability are at the heart of both Bath Spa University’s and Willmott Dixon’s approach to this project and we are delighted to be working with them on our exciting new building.

“We have taken on a building with a strong identity which has an original design brief very much aligned with our own aspirations. We hope our new facility will significantly help to bring staff, students and the public together as part of a strong art and design community here in Bath.”

During the planning process there has been active engagement with heritage groups, including the 20th Century Society and Bath Preservation Trust, as well as the Heritage Officer at BANES, to ensure the building has been designed sympathetically and in accordance with its Grade II listed status.

The new campus will breathe new life into the local area with significant investment into landscaping the surrounding area, as well as improving the cycle route and pedestrian pathway which runs alongside the building and River Avon.

Anita continues: “We want our building to provide an environment that welcomes a diverse range of people. The move to Locksbrook Campus offers an opportunity to enhance the School’s relationship with the community by further fostering a symbiotic relationship between the school and the industries it serves.

“Once opened we will be welcoming local people into our building - whether it’s to visit one of our many art exhibitions and to make use of the café – we’ll also be offering a range of short courses for the public and we’re in talks with local businesses on ways we can work together once the building opens in 2019.”

Neal Stephens, Managing Director of Willmott Dixon said: “We are delighted to be working with Bath Spa University to deliver the next chapter in the life of this significant building in Bath. Utilising our wealth of University building experience, we will work closely with our partners to deliver this project in a sustainable and responsible way, and it is a pleasure to be working with a University that shares these principles.

“We will also support the University’s vision to bring together the local community through the building, by developing and delivering a plan of community engagement that leaves a lasting legacy that extends beyond the building itself.”

Bath Spa University students to bring art-itecture to local community

Bath Spa University’s Bath School of Art and Design partnered with European manufacturers of high quality wood flooring, Hakwood, to design, create and install a one-off interactive public installation in five days.

The challenge, which was undertaken by 20 Bath Spa students studying Three Dimensional Design: Idea Material Object, saw 5 tonnes of birch ply upcycled to create a temporary structure for the local public to interact and engage with. The structure was installed outside the University’s new campus at Locksbrook Road.

Julia Keyte, Course Leader, BA Hons Three Dimensional Design: Idea Material Object said:

“Our aim is that this challenge not only brings our course community together but that it further connects us all with our local community." 

Bath and North East Somerset Council support the University’s proposals

Bath Spa’s plans to rejuvenate the Herman Miller building for use by Bath School of Art and Design have taken a major step forward.

Proposals to change the use of the premises to enable the University to relocate its Bath School of Art and Design to the iconic building were submitted in October 2015 to Bath and North East Somerset Council and with an officer recommendation for approval, the planning resolved to grant consent at Development Control committee on 9 March 2016.

The building, which is the former location of furniture manufacturers Herman Miller, is situated on the Locksbrook Road Industrial Estate in Bath. The firm moved out in 2015 because the building no longer met their needs and it has remained vacant since.

Bath Spa University’s plans will transform the building into a vibrant art and design campus, saving it from potential dereliction, reviving local surroundings and providing the perfect platform for creative growth to continue in the city. 

Report shows positive economic impact of students in Bath

A report by Oxford Economics, commissioned by Bath Spa University, has revealed the University generated a value-added contribution of £93.9 million to the Bath and North East Somerset economy throughout 2014/15. This significant figure is equivalent to 2 percent of the district’s economic output.

In the same period, the University has supported over 2,050 jobs in the area, with the University itself employing over 966 people, making it the fifth largest employer in Bath and North East Somerset.

The study also found that over the past five years, the number of regional jobs within the creative sector has increased by approximately 11.5 percent, a significantly higher rate than many other sectors, such as manufacturing which has seen a decline of around 16 percent.

With more than 60 percent of all creative jobs being filled by graduates, the increase in employment figures and the economic power of the sector highlights the importance of providing access to high-quality creative education through institutions such as Bath Spa University.

Read or download the full report.

Campus address

Bath School of Art and Design, Locksbrook Rd, Bath, BA1 3EL

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