RC - Bristol Floating Harbour

Short description: 


Bristol Floating Harbour has been progressively turned around from a redundant dock into a vibrant mixed use, cultural destination in the heart of city centre. Local authority played a leading role.

The focus of local policy in the 1960s and early 1970s was on growth, "modernising" the city, the central area redevelopment. Limited scope for public involvement in planning caused growing protest against insensitive redevelopment by conservation and residents organisations

The first stage (finding appropriate uses to regenerate the docks, increasing market confidence, mobilising investment) happened
1978 with the adoption of the Dock's Local Plan. Soon after the local authority produced detailed development briefs for early release
sites. A handful of properties around the quay began to be renovated by individual local developers, including the arls centre, the "ArnoIfini". The Council helped the process by converting listed Victorian Warehouses into the Watershed Media Centre through a trust. The key to the area's take-off was the adaptive reuse of buildings around the dock. The harbour side's traditional role and identity has been maintained through the Bristol Industrial Museum in an old warehouse and BruneI's SS Great Britain, which has been restored in its original boat yard.

Private housebuilders have created a major new residential community, with some very attractive development in locations that would not have popular without the views over the water.

Start date: 
United Kingdom
Completion date: 



Type(s) of MILU

Interweaving: use of the same space for different functions.

Lessons learned
- spatial quality, identity and connectivity: all buildings have a front to the Floating Harbour, pedestrian bridge and public realm provide public access to the waterfront, quality street furniture and public art, landscaping, corner apartment blocks designed to act as Iandmarks to the scheme, the colour of materials used complements the existing build environment, attention to detail in brickwork and iron work, provision of carporls, some excellent warehouse

conversions into social and private housing, public space is generally informal acting as shared surface for essential traffic and pedestrians, bars and cafes in appropriate places. A very strict design control has been established.
- planning and implementation process: In the first plans the Floating Harbour should have been filled in for the motorway. 1972 a "Bristol City Docls Group" (members of the City Council) has been established, in order to prepare the alternative solutions. The detailed reports have been prepared leading to the shift in the Councils plans and the city development direction. The city docks had been developed in an evolutionary and piecemeal way, at the price of fairly low-key development without spectacular buildings or highly innovative public space.
- involvement of the citizens: The engagement of the citizens and chambers for the conservation and the protest against the
modernisation plans assisted the shift in the Council's policy.