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Shortlist announced in Bristol church visitor centre contest

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Carmody Groarke and Eric Parry have been named among the finalists in the contest to design a £12-15 million visitor and community centre next to a landmark 15th-century Bristol church

The firms are competing against dRMM, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Purcell for the prized project at the city’s famous Grade I-listed St Mary Redcliffe church.

Organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC), the contest attracted more than 50 submissions, with 20 per cent of entries coming from overseas.

David Hamilton, architect and director of projects at MRC said the five finalists stood out for their ‘client-centred approach and previous experience in fundraising and stakeholder engagement’.

He added: ‘This was demonstrated through a diverse range of previous projects that have all made a positive contribution to setting and place-making, and through this to transforming local communities.’

The architects now have until mid-April to produce concept designs, which will then go on public display. The winning team is expected to be announced in late May 2016.

The two-stage competition is running alongside a wider regeneration project, the Redcliffe Neighbourhood Development Plan – a separate proposal to make the church the focus of a new urban village.

Shortlist in full:

  • Carmody Groarke
  • dRMM
  • Eric Parry Architects
  • Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
  • Purcell

Next week (23 February) the finalists will be attending a public symposium Architecture and the contemporary church imagining the new in the context of the old held at the church.

Speakers include journalist, broadcaster and chairman of The Churches Conservation Trust Loyd Grossman, and the Right Reverend Nick Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury.



Photograph by Emily Whitfield-WicksSt Mary Redcliffe, Redcliffe, Bristol. A night time view from Prince street bridge with Redcliffe Wharf to the right, river Avon.

About St Mary Redcliffe

  • Grade I-listed and the architectural equivalent of many European cathedrals, St Mary’s is one of the largest parish churches in England and notable for its connection with many important historical figures, including Handel and Coleridge.
  • The church has links with America through artefacts relating to John Cabot’s voyage of 1497 and Admiral Penn; the latter, the namesake of Pennsylvania, is buried within the church.
  • Elizabeth I described the building, which is still the tallest in Bristol, as ‘the fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in England’.
  • St Mary Redcliffe attracts tens of thousands of visitors and tourists annually. Built, and then rebuilt, over a 300-year period from the early 13th century to the 15th century, the church has always lacked sufficient community and support spaces for its vital work in one of the most deprived wards in the country.
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