Frank Gehry is in talks with Lord Rogers about designing a new satellite town outside Bath as part of an answer to the city's pressing housing needs.
Gehry, who was in London last week to collect his Royal Gold Medal from RIBA president Marco Goldschmied, told the AJ that he was due to discuss with Lord Rogers the £300 million 'New Bath' project - to be built on Duchy of Cornwall land - at the Gold Medal ceremony at Whitehall Palace. Gehry had dinner with Lord Rogers following the event and is waiting to see how the Bath project will be financed, but is keen to become involved in a masterplanning capacity and as architect of at least one of the main buildings.
The scheme is the brainchild of Karl Jaeger, the founder of the International School of America and an educationalist who has been based in Bath for the past 25 years. Jaeger this week told the AJ he has commissioned David Lock Associates, the planning firm headed by former planning minister Lock, to work up 'inside the next 12 months' a planning application for the settlement, which will be based loosely on Siena or Venice in Italy.
Lock has also discussed the proposal with Prince Charles in private meetings at Highgrove.
New Bath is proposed for a site at Newton Park, five miles west of Bath, which Gehry has visited. It will consist of 1,000-2,000 dwellings - cut down last week from denser earlier projections - and a piazza where Jaeger has asked Gehry to design a 'centrepiece' building as the 'focal point'. The 34ha scheme will include three or four such piazzas. Jaeger is trying to persuade the city council that the project will aid the city's central government requirement for 10,000 extra units over the next 10 years and said the residential elements will be 'self-financing'.
'It will reflect the architecture of Bath itself, which is predominantly of Georgian buildings four storeys high . . . but it will absolutely not be past iche , ' said Jaeger. 'Bath is still looking for its great twentieth century architecture.Gehry is anxious to get going.'
The settlement will be 'pedestrian only', said Jaeger, and will include a 'car pool' costing members of the public just £300-400 per year for access to fully serviced and maintained vehicles, located on the city's edge at the end of a dedicated bus route.
The site for the scheme is near Bath Spa University College and Jaeger proposes to demolish '50s additions to the campus to return them to green fields in return for taking about 17ha of greenfield land.
However, Prince Charles, who has been approached by Jaeger but has not spoken to Gehry on the proposal, is against elements of the project in so far as they affect the college's Capability Brown-designed landscape, said a spokesperson.
Jaeger added that the Richard Rogers Partnership has expressed interest in becoming involved and the settlement could provide another real built example of some of Rogers' well-trumpeted Urban Task Force principles, although it is essentially greenfield land.
'If it works it could be a good model and achieve some of the report's goals, ' said Jaeger.
Members of the project's founding coalition include musician Peter Gabriel, and new RIBA honorary fellows planner Sir Peter Hall and environmentalist Herbert Girardet.