Bristol University – New Campus residential accommodation – Temple Island
The University has outline planning permission which determines the mass and height of the buildings on the new Temple Meads campus. The University has published the design for the residential buildings which will stand on the south side of Cattle Market Road; the image shows the view of them from Temple Meads Station.
The Society has consistently supported the University’s new campus and, from the outset, has said that the new campus should be distinguished by buildings as recognisably ‘Bristol’ as the Wills Memorial Building. The proposed architecture is disappointing. The buildings would be anonymous and indistinguishable from many of Bristol’s speculative office blocks. The tall orthogonal blocks have repetitious fenestration in elevations that have no horizontal hierarchy and minimal vertical articulation. They have no ‘tops’ or podiums. The dark colour of the proposed materials emphasises the buildings’ mass. Only the buildings’ height makes them ‘memorable landmarks’.
These ‘anywhere’ commercial structures do not indicate that they are part of an exciting future campus. The Temple Island buildings lack recognisable character or distinction. There is no better place in Bristol for a contemporary landmark building. Apart from the station, the site has no architectural context. The University has an unconstrained opportunity to use modern architecture and materials. There is no reason to refer to the nearby industrial heritage when the purpose of the new campus is to signal that Bristol University is at the forefront of the development of new technology, design and sustainability.
The site is at the heart of the developing commercial area that will transform and reunite this run-down area with the economic life of the city. It must be a beacon to attract inward investment into the city. Temple Meads Station is an example of how 19th century Bristol used new materials and architecture to signal the arrival of new technology and ideas.