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Populous triumphs in Bristol Arena contest

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Stadium specialists Populous has won the competition to design Bristol’s £91 million new arena

The practice, which is working with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Buro Happold, saw off competition from Grimshaw, Bilbao Arena designer IDOM, Sweden’s White Arkitekter and Wilkinson Eyre to bag the prized job.

The ‘crystalline’, semi-transparent 12,000 capacity venue, designed by the firm behind London’s 2012 Olympic Stadium, was chosen by a jury which included Bristol mayor and past-RIBA president George Ferguson.

Populous senior principal Nicholas Reynolds said: ‘This design creates the platform for amazing experiences. The combination of functional flexibility and performance quality will make the arena a ‘must play’ venue for all artists. Live music, sport, comedy and family shows will all have their own unique atmosphere and environment. Just like the 02 in London, top acts will want to play at Bristol Arena.’

Peter Clegg of Feilden Clegg Bradley, added: ‘Framed by the railway and the River Avon, the arena has been designed to reflect the proud history and heritage of the city of Bristol, creating an iconic new form within the city, which is respectful and responsive to its unique location.

‘While the masonry plinth base will reflect the surrounding buildings, the beautiful crystalline upper form will allow the arena to continually adapt to mirror the changing face and form of the city.’

The arena is aiming to be ‘the UK’s most sustainable arena’ and will feature the largest bulding-based photovoltaic system in the city which has been named as 2015 European Green Capital.

Ferguson, commented: ‘I’m delighted with the outcome from five remarkable competition entries. The combination of Populous with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, BuroHappold Engineering and Vanguardia Consulting has produced a highly intelligent solution that we shall develop together to create a great destination to meet, relax and socialise throughout the year, as well as fulfilling a regional function.’

The £90 million council-backed scheme will occupy a former diesel depot site known as ‘Arena Island’ next to Temple Meads railway station and is being masterplanned by Allies and Morrison.

A planning application for the arena is set to be submitted by the end of the year, with the project expected to start on site in early 2016.

The arena is scheduled to open towards the end of 2017.

Intriguingly Populous’ design received just 15 per cent of the votes in the AJ’s online poll. The winner was Grimshaw’s proposal [scheme D] which was chosen by 40 per cent of those polled.

AJ vote on Bristol Arena - March 2015


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