NVB Architects for Frome Town Council
Frome Town Council, struggling to operate in a cramped town centre building, bought the 1892 Public Offices building from Somerset Council at a reduced price, and NVB was appointed to restore the building to its former glory while making it fit for 21st century use.
The skill was in making a building of this scale viable for a small parish Council and required lateral thinking from the architects. From the start Councillor Colin Cobb (an architect at FCB Studios) and James McGillivray and Hannah Yoell of NVB worked with local groups including a cancer charity, radio station and food bank to ensure the building had a wider community purpose. It now also houses Volunteer Frome, a Community Car Club and Active & In Touch (a befriending charity for isolated people). The Council Chamber is used not just for meetings but civic receptions and conferences, with the aim of reviving its previous incarnation as a wedding venue.
The building had accrued the depressing additions and divisions of an unloved public sector back office and a major part of the refurbishment was the stripping back of layers, revealing stunning details such as the ground floor mosaic. Attention to detail included clear and elegant signage by a local graphic designer, avoiding the morass of laminated signs that often blight public buildings.
A restrained palette of colours and materials allows the handsome proportions and details of the existing building to shine and feel fresh and modern at the same time. This calm approach gives an accessible rather than institutional feel; all reflected in the increased footfall and a sense of ownership of the Town Hall by the general public.
Client Frome Town Council
Architect NVB Architects
Structural engineer Mann Williams
M&E engineer E3
Quantity surveyor HMW Consulting
Contractor Hammond and Sons
Graphic designer Pencil Studios