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Urban Design Compendium

Case Study 047 - Transforming perceptions through quality design

047 - Paintworks, Bristol

Paintworks is a 12 acre regeneration project on the site of a former Victorian paint factory in Bristol. With a mix of uses and a strong sense of community, Paintworks has become a real piece of town, challenging the theory that that it is impossible to make the living and working environments within a mixed-use scheme equally desirable.

Recognising the lack of a creative cluster in Bristol, Verve Properties, owner and developer of Paintworks, saw an opportunity to create a vibrant, mixed-use district for the city. However, sandwiched between the river and the A4, at some distance from the city centre, a strong design concept was required to overcome the disavantages of its isolated location.

Recognising the value of the derelict factory buildings, it was decided to retain and work with the existing structures. This proved to be crucial to the scheme’s success. By careful sculpting and carving a number of intimate streets, courtyards and alleyways out of the existing factory, a mix of uses were inserted into the streetscape to create a recognisable piece of town. Drawing heavily on the intimate street patterns of historic towns, the result was both familiar yet unlike other developments.

Instead of formal marketing, interest and awareness was generated through the hosting of a raft of art and cultural events which promoted the merits of the scheme amongst the creative community themselves. The scheme was fully let on completion without a single advert being placed or brochure printed.

The scheme currently includes about 13,000 square metres of live-work and studio/office space, apartments, a café, an American diner and an exhibition/event space. The largest and final phase of the scheme was granted outline planning permission at the end of 2010. It will be wholly new-build but seek to continue the high densities, mix of uses and intimate scale of streets and courtyards that established the cultural, social and commercial success of the earlier phases.

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UDC2 Section - Delivering Quality and Adding Value

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