Bristol’s new mayor, architect George Ferguson, has spoken to the AJ about his plans to learn from Manchester, create the city’s own star architects and make Bristol the ‘first stop’ outside London for visitors to the UK
Just hours after the co-founder of Ferguson Mann Architects was elected as Bristol’s first elected mayor (16 November), the 65-year-old outlined his short-term and long-term plans for the city - currently the sixth most populous in England.
He said: ‘There is no bigger role for an architect - I have a bigger mandate than any MP.
‘It will be challenging - we are going through some austerity cuts in Bristol. That’s inescapable. So the first thing is to raise people’s spirit and get everybody to pull together emotionally.
I need to raise people’s spirit and get everybody to pull together emotionally
‘Then I’ve got to knock on the door of the prime minister and get the recognition that we’ve done something good. We then need to get the power and resources to do innovative things in Bristol.’
Among his more immediate tasks will be to assemble a ‘rainbow cabinet’ and Ferguson has said that, in his early days, he will be listening a lot and taking an ‘enormous amount of advice’ from the people in the city.
He also wants to glean what he can from other successful places. ‘We have a lot to learn from Manchester - a city that is not shy about itself. Manchester realises the importance of architecture and culture and has strong leadership. I will be talking to [council leader] Richard Leese and [chief executive] Howard Bernstein.’
He added: ‘In Bristol I’m going to make quite sure the city is working with the very best architects, including the local practices. In 10 years time I’d like us to have our own star architects - like Manchester.’
Long-term Ferguson hopes Bristol will become a city that ‘everyone can learn from and that people will come to learn from’.
He said: ‘I want Bristol to become the first stop outside London that UK visitors come to see. We have all the ingredients but we just haven’t made the most of them.
Ferguson admits that affordable housing is one of his ‘big priorities’. He said: ‘We have got to build proper homes and communities.’
So pleased for you @georgefergusonx ! And for Bristolians! A brilliant partnership.
— Tom Dyckhoff (@tomdyckhoff) November 16, 2012
@georgefergusonx architect become mayor of Bristol…brilliant!
— George Clarke (@MrGeorgeClarke) November 16, 2012