Hamilton House: The Early Days

We had a rummage in our Scrapbook for some images of the first few years of the project.

A panoramic shot of what is now a studio space on floor 3. This image was found on a poster made in April 2010 by Bath-based photographer and blogger Kilgore661.

You know when you’re clearing out your bedroom and you find an old shoe box at the back of your cupboard full of crumpled letters, postcards from exes, flyers from raves you went to back in the day, and really inspired artwork you did at 4 in the morning?

That’s kind of how we felt when we were rooting around in various nooks and crannies of the building last summer and found a bunch of old photos, posters and documents from the early years of the project. After digitising the whole lot we’ve now got a massive stack of them which we’ve nicknamed The Coexist Scrapbook.

This week, we thought we’d share a couple of images from those days (2008–2010). At a crucial point in the project’s history, we thought it would be good to remind ourselves of how far we’ve come in just under a decade; how all the scribbled plans and wide-eyed ideas have becoming a living, breathing reality.

Cover image from the first Hamilton House business plan, 2008.

In amongst the stuff we unearthed was a copy of the original Coexist business plan. Looking at it now, it’s easy to forget that the idea of a mixed-use “Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Community” close to the centre of a major city was unprecedented at the time.

Side-by-side with that we found a copy of the first Coexist Prospectus, which featured photo collages of Stokes Croft promoting “spaces of exchange where people can learn the skills of the future”. (The full document is available to look at here.)

Image from the first Coexist prospectus.

One of the images that stuck out the most (the cover image above), was found on a poster made by a photographer called Kilgore661, advertising his services as a specialist in gigapans - photos which are “hundreds of times larger that ordinary photos, allowing you to zoom in and see the smallest of details.”

I managed to track him and asked him over email how he heard about Hamilton House and what got him interested in taking photos of the building and the area.

A photographer whose work centres around “pictures of ordinary places with a story”, he came across the building in 2010 while exploring the murals of Stokes Croft, and was shown around by a member of PRSC.

While trying to get access to local buildings in order to take some panorama shots of the area, he was allowed up on to the roof of Hamilton House. The staff at the time were “very open to the idea of me shooting the view from the roof and suggested I have a wander through the building”.

As a result he took a beautiful series of shots of the building and the surrounding area. With their slightly smudged, psychedelic colour schemes, they somehow captured the whirl of the early days of the project: full of experimentation, improvisation, as well as a radical vision of the future. (To see the full gigapan images, have a look at this).

‘The Coexist Perspective’, Kilgore661.

We’ll be putting out a few more of these images out over the past few months. In the meantime, if you have any photos or experiences of those days of the project that you’d like to share, send ’em over to marketing@coexistuk.org.

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