One of the last projects I worked on while at CODA architects was a proposal to Bristol City Council for an undeveloped and what is considered to be the most important remaining Harbourside site; the one currently beside Llyod’s amphitheatre used during the summer as part of the Harbourside regatta and french market and also by the Spiegel tent during winter. Most of the rest of the time the site is just an empty landscaped area used as urinals at weekends.
Our brief by an out-of-town developer was to prepare proposals that would enhance this part of Bristol while retaining opportunities for community use and to then make a proposal to buy the site with a funded project to Bristol City Council.
The idea we came up with was to build a hotel that respected the setting, created jobs, and attracted people to the amphitheatre end of the harbourside. Not the most original idea but given the drawn-out nature of developing such sites one we felt held the germ of a proposal that could grow and be improved with more input.
It would be used during the annual harbourside regatta and would provide a large banquet and conference room with bars and terraces at roof level and bars and a floating restaurant at harbourside. The hotel would also be raised above ground level so that a covered area could be provided for community use. Our key motivation was the create an appropriate building for Bristol. One could argue that cladding it in perforated corten steel (rather like a rusting ship was not the most logical solution but it was a poetic response to the sites history as wharf used by tabacco traders.
Proposal by CODA Architects
Since then, Bristol City Council have sold the site to the highest bidder with a minimal design brief, and have been considering a mixed use (office/retail/leisure) proposal by highly regarded London based practice with a Bristol Office.
By selling for the highest price rather than a funded ‘best for Bristol proposal’, the site will be pushed by the developer and their architects to maximise a return and an overdeveloped site with a generically commercial proposal is the inevitable consequence. Hopefully, Bristol City council will demand more of the developer than they have allowed in the past (although I doubt it !).
Proposal currently under consideration by BCC