The Bottle House
A wonderful grade 2 listed building in a prominent location which addresses Southside Street and the vibrant historic Barbican, this building has sat empty & without any functional purpose since its most famous inhabitant, the artist Robert Lenkiewicz, passed away. The building’s original function was as a bottling plant & storage facility for the adjacent Plymouth Gin factory.
The strong presence of the stone elevation facing Southside Street sits in stark contrast to its plain rear flank elevation which is home to one of Robert Lenkiewicz’s most famous murals which covers the whole rear elevation and for many years provided a vibrant backdrop to the Barbican street scene. Weather has taken its toll on the mural over the years and now it is barely recognisable. Much of what’s left to be seen between the wooden battens installed in an effort to protect the work is faded & it’s peeling flakes of paint are irreparable.
Nevertheless the importance of the mural has been recognised by its independent listing. Bringing this building back to having some functional role is made more complicated by its restricted access and daylighting constraints.
On this project we have worked closely with conservation specialists and in liaison with the Lenkiewicz foundation, we have developed plans to bring the ground floor indoor market space back into an exciting open public retail space.
Lenkiewicz’s studio had once occupied the first floor and evidence of Robert’s work remains; from paint marks on the floor to some less than sensitively conceived internal alterations to the storing of the body of “Diogenese”, a local tramp Robert had once befriended.
The first floor will provide three spacious apartments, with two of them extending up into the roof space where Diogenese had once been stowed. The fate of the mural itself sadly remains unresolved and so it continues to disappear with each passing season, but while this impasse continues, the building is at least finding a new lease of life and will once again be able to contribute to this thriving social hub of the city.
The planning application for this unique project was granted by Plymouth District Council on 25th June 2019 under delegated powers. The planning approval has allowed for the conversion of the Grade 2 listed former bottling plant, into an open retail space at ground floor, with three luxury apartments in the upper floors and roof space.
The planners & conservation officer have insisted that the new conversion be made possible without interfering with the mural, which is separately listed despite its condition being such that it is technically regarded as being beyond salvation. Nevertheless the importance of the mural to the history of the Barbican remains a sensitive issue and the fate of the mural remains unknown and unaffected by the conversion proposals.
2019 Plymouth DC
Renovation & Remodelling