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ZHA reveals alternative vision for Populous’s embattled Bristol Arena site

Zaha Hadid Architects' 'diesel depot' proposals for Bristol

Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has drawn up alternative proposals for the contested Bristol Arena site, which looks increasingly unlikely to become a new music and sport venue

The scheme by the AJ100 big-hitter, for financial backer Legal & General, includes new homes, a conference centre and a hotel for Arena Island at Bristol Temple Meads.

The city centre site already has planning permission for a £124 million, 12,000-seat arena designed by Populous, which was approved in 2016 but later put on hold by Bristol’s mayor Marvin Rees.  

ZHA’s proposals come just weeks before Bristol City Council is set to settle the long-running saga with a final decision on where the arena should be built. 

In July, a report by accountant KPMG concluded that a new arena north of the city at Filton would provide a better ‘cost-benefit ratio’ than Populous’s plans for the city centre.

Legal & General is already a major stakeholder in the wider Temple Quarter development, which reaches across the arena and Temple Meads sites

According to the developer, ZHA’s proposals – which would see ‘Arena Island’ renamed ‘Temple Island’ – would create 550 homes, including 220 affordable, two major office buildings as well as a 345-room hotel.

ZHA director Jim Heverin said: ‘Our design for Temple Island is derived from the existing architectural fabric of Bristol, aimed at regenerating the area around Temple Meads station.

‘With a particular emphasis on providing new, green public spaces, this proposal integrates a range of work, live and civic uses which will create a new vibrant quarter for the city.’

Legal & General’s head of public sector partnerships Pete Gladwell said: ’Subject to the decision in September’s cabinet meeting, we are excited about taking this vision forward with Bristol City Council over the coming months to deliver a scheme which will really benefit the residents of Bristol.’

In March 2015, a team led by Populous, including Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and engineer BuroHappold, won the competition for the Bristol Arena project, seeing off consortiums headed by Grimshaw, Spain’s IDOM, White Arkitekter and WilkinsonEyre.

Bristol City Council will decide the future of the site on 4 September.

Populous Bristol Arena  3

Populous Bristol Arena 3

In doubt: Populous’s Bristol Arena proposals


Readers' comments (6)

  • Siting the arena on the edge of the centre of the city, close to Bristol's main rail station, would create the opportunity to encourage the use of public transport - whereas sticking it out at Filton would likely do the opposite, regardless of the 'urban planning' advice from some heavyweight bean-counters.
    And the image of high density housing comprised of variously warped tower blocks does neither the City of Bristol nor the memory of a remarkable architect much in the way of favours.

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  • I agree with Robert above... the residential/ hotel block design is no more at this stage than a poor massing diagram absent of vision. Completely out of character for such an eminent practice.

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  • I was part of the team working for SWRDA with Savills and others that selected this site for the arena. The aim then around 2003, seems like another world now) was to regenerate a sustainable location close to the city centre and with excellent transport connections. Millions have been spent purchasing the site and reclaiming it. The design after a couple of false starts, was won by an excellent team that combined the best in architecture, stadium design, engineering and sustainable credentials. To turn to ZHA for an alternative beggars belief.

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  • "Our design for Temple Island is derived from the existing architectural fabric of Bristol". Is that a joke? It looks as if it's derived from discarded architectural drawings in the ZHA wastepaper bin.

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  • Just Woeful.

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  • Phil Parker

    Rubbish all. Opportunities missed. Client needs to get some proper advice.

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