Austin-Smith:Lord consolidates success in Bristol with UWE Design

Architects, Austin-Smith:Lord have won a competitive tender to deliver architectural, interior design, landscape design and engineering services to the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol as it begins a major redevelopment of its Bower Ashton Campus.

The practice, which has recently opened a new Bristol studio, will design a new centre for digital media programmes including film, animation and photography. The three storey building forms the first phase of a masterplan for the redevelopment of the campus, which will include a second arts building, central landscaped square and the refurbishment of existing space.

UWE’s Bower Ashton Studios is situated in close proximity to Bristol’s Ashton Court Estate which comprises a grade 1 listed mansion, listed landscape grounds and deer park and the new building is situated in a prominent position on the approach to the Estate.

Commenting on the challenge, Tim Young, Director at Austin-Smith:Lord said: “In collaboration with the client and the contractor, Willmott Dixon, we worked hard to ensure that the design enhanced the conservation area setting, whilst providing a modern facility which would meet the needs of the University. Our solution was a design aesthetic which draws on the typology of agricultural barns and local materials. “

The new building provides 2400m2 floorspace, incorporating a series of workshop and studio spaces, including a TV production studio. A large student hub zone space is located at first floor, with a full height panoramic window giving views out across the adjacent deer park. This level also provides a series of computer labs and stop-motion animation studios.

The quieter top floor accommodates a series of specialist sound recording spaces as well as staff offices, editing suites and further computer labs.

The building has been designed to achieve BREEAM Very Good rating.

Since being appointed to work on this project, Austin-Smith:Lord has subsequently been appointed to refurbish the Arnolfini building in Bristol

Alex Gilkison, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education says, “The new studio facilities will support the Faculty’s ambition to develop a modern, digitally-enabled studio campus close to the heart of Bristol’s creative and digital economy.


“The Faculty has partnerships with BBC, Watershed, Encounters and Wildscreen Festivals, Aardman Animation, M Shed, Spike Island and Arnolfini.  These links are central to the Faculty’s practice-oriented strategy where students learn in industry relevant settings and with industry partners.”


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BDC 317 : Jun 2024