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Purpose

Preliminary designs and designs for the New Town, 1777-1782, unexecuted (8)

Notes

Adam’s schemes for the New Town at Bath were not executed. See scheme notes.

Of Adam’s two elevations of the new town from 1782 (Adam volume 10/81-82) Rowan wrote the following:

‘This softly drawn pencil elevation preserves the early workings for a grandiose proposal which dates from 1782. Adam here attempts to organise the whole of the east bank of the Avon as a pair of long, three-storey terraces overlooking the river and set on a succession of high arcaded basements. The terraces include nine large houses, adding up to a total of 29 bays, facing the new town, and backing on a quay to be formed along the river. Tall classical archways, flanked by paired Tuscan columns, are set as the centrepieces of quadrant walls with single-bay symmetrical lodges that link the terraces to the eastern end of Pulteney Bridge which here appears as a section with the normal level and flood level of the Avon marked on it. A similar drawing (Adam volume 10/82) records the same scheme looking in the opposite direction. The difference in level between the top of the bridge and the two archways leading to the quays would have involved an impractical amount of earth movement and had the effect of hiding the ground floor of the fronts of the houses from view. It is characteristic of Adam’s way of working that the single-bay lodges in this drawing are sometimes square with pyramid roofs, and elsewhere octagonal. The screen walls treated as archways and the general sense of assembling architectural elements for effect rather than use recall Adam’s management of the ancillary buildings at Culzean Castle, Ayrshire, where he was working about this time.’

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Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

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Contents of Preliminary designs and designs for the New Town, 1777-1782, unexecuted (8)