Green Gateways seek to reinterpret first impressions of Bristol

Issue date: 05 June 2014

An ideas project to reimagine and improve major entry points to Bristol has ambitions to become a reality for Bristol's European Green Capital year in 2015. The 'Green Gateways' project is being run by Bristol in Bloom, with partners at the Green Capital Partnership, the University of West of England (UWE Bristol), and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Six 'Gateways' including the Bath Bridge Roundabout, the Hotwells Rd traffic island, and the Old Market overpass over Temple Way have been identified for the project which ultimately seeks to construct the ideas for Bristol 2015 and many years afterwards.

Ten final year students on the UWE BA (Hons) Architecture and Planning course have drafted proposals for the sites as part of a 'live brief' that forms part of their degree work. The 'Agency Project', enables students to develop real experience of delivering to a client's specifications and deadline within cost parameters, as well as meeting planning, building and highways requirements. Students are able to test their skills and knowledge against a real brief and this enables the City and the client to gain a long term legacy from the students' work. To continue this local agenda, the students are being mentored by architects and professionals from city-based practices and the RIBA Bristol & Bath Branch.

Each 'gateway' will combine urban and landscape design options in low, medium and high cost options, seek to enhance the 'gateway' area, and 'signpost' arrival and departure to Bristol. Designs will aim to be practically possible to build on site and seen as a permanent features of the urban scene.

The students worked in teams of two and early designs include a sculptural project for the Three Lamps Junction that draws on Bristol's industrial heritage. Amy Dias and Anna-Maria Hinis proposed using timber and steel to create a sweep of posts of different heights, recollecting the suspension bridge, which lead the viewer's eye to the Grade 2 Listed Three Lamps. Amy said, “It was very challenging to design something for such a small site. We had an interim meeting, where the client expressed concerns about pedestrian access, so we had to revise our proposal. The project was a very valuable experience, and opened my eyes to all the aspects of delivering to a live brief for clients.”

Dudley Jones and Benjamin Williams focused on the Traffic Island where the A4 and A370 converge in Hotwells. Having researched the history of the area, they chose to focus on the heritage of the docks and the railway, and created an idea that combined industrial structures – a crane and a train carriage – with a planting scheme that was sustainable. Pedestrians would be able to walk through the planting as they access the other side of the road, creating a 'green link' between the two roads. Ben says, “We had to design options for different cost bands, and that made us think carefully about the materials and the methods needed for construction. In the studio we have so far only been confined by our imagination, so working to a live brief was a real learning curve. This project bridges the gap between our learning at the University and the real world of work. The proposals we have worked on have brought together our knowledge of both planning and architecture and it has been a fantastic experience to work with the clients and the mentors on this project.”

Chair of Bristol in Bloom Mike Crooks said, “Bristol in Bloom is seeking to really capitalize on the amazing opportunity 2015 offers the city, and to make lasting improvements would be a fantastic legacy for all the students and organisations involved, as well as those who use and interact with these 'gateways', whether pedestrian, cyclist, bus passenger or motorist.”.

Chair of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership Built Environment and Land Use Group and local architect Robert Narracott said, “Bristol's European Green Capital Year is the culmination of years of effort and progress by many people in the city. For a number of 'gateways' to be improved and used by the people and visitors to the city is our way of improving the built environment.”

The Green Gateways ideas will be revealed at the UWE Environment and Technology Degree Show exhibition on 5 June, and funding options will be explored in order to develop the plans to create the ideas in situ in Spring 2015.

The students who worked on the projects are - Emily Danaford, Julian Hong, Dudley Jones, Anna-Maria Hinis, Jessica Robinson, Adrienne (Amy) Dias, Benjamin Williams, Gomezga Muwowo, Rajbir Samra, Elliot Pont.

Companies or organisations wishing to be involved with the Green Gateways project should contact Monica Whyte at Bristol in Bloom on 01980 611485 or Jon Watkins of RIBA South West on 07501 466649.

The full list of sites is:

1. Muller Road Roundabout underpass

2. Hotwells Road traffic island

3. Bath Bridge

4. The Three Lamps

5. Crow Lane roundabout

6. Old Market roundabout overpass

See photos here.

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