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Imperial Tobacco Factory HQ saved from the scrap heap - images

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Skidmore Owings and Merrill's (SOM's) part-demolished 1970s Imperial Tobacco Factory Headquarters in Bristol has been saved from total destruction.

The city council has approved a scheme by local practice Acanthus Ferguson Mann to convert the shell of the Grade II-listed building into 340 homes and 1,600m 2of commercial space for developer Urban Splash.

Dubbed the Lakeshore project, because of the similarities between the factory and Mies van der Rohe's ground-breaking Chicago apartment buildings, the 4.5ha development in the Hartcliffe area of the city will retain the only remaining part of the original structure - the external Cor-Ten steel frame.

SOM collaborated with British practice York Rosenberg Mardell on the designs for the lakeside complex, which opened in 1974.

The factory was closed in 1991, almost completely demolished in 1997, and then stripped of its marble, windows and exterior precast concrete cladding ( see below).

The abandoned sculpture-like skeleton was given retrospective listing status in 2001 but, with no real plans to reuse it, the Twentieth Century Society listed the structure among the most serious 'industrial buildings at risk'.

However early last year Urban Splash came up with radical proposals to overhaul the site and, once complete, the scheme will be the developer's first built project in Bristol ( Wills HQ redesign set to make a Splash).

Councillor Barbara Janke, leader of Bristol City Council said: 'This will be a landmark project, which will lead the way in the regeneration of south Bristol. Imaginative schemes such as Lake Shore will spark commercial interest in the south Bristol area and help attract other investment that can transform its environment and economy. For the first time in decades, the council is starting to make things happen in this part of the city.'

The development is expected to start on site later this year and the first flats could go on sale as early as summer 2007.

by Richard Waite

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