Lewins Mead, Bristol


Bristol City Council

The objective of this scheme was to reconnect a commercial area with the centre and reduce the impact of traffic. Lewins Mead, Bristol, is a large site lying at the heart of the city between the major shopping centre, Broadmead, and the historic city centre and Harbourside. The area is dominated by unsuccessful and obsolete 1960s commercial office blocks which loom over traffic choked streets. It is a harsh and unfriendly environment.

Hanover Property Unit Trust, owners of three core office blocks saw little future in their existing buildings or environment and together with architects, key interest groups including adjoining owners, and Bristol City Council set about devising a development framework which would: reduce the impact of traffic; create pedestrian links between Broadmead and the city centre/Harbourside; and provide realistic development opportunities to facilitate the area's regeneration.

The framework was developed by analysing a series of key issues including the archaeology of the site, the scope for diverting traffic, the movement of pedestrians and a range of possible uses.

The public were involved by means of a workshop day, which included representatives from a wide range of local groups and professions. The participants were split into groups, briefed on critical issues and left to formulate ideas for the future of the area. Common aspirations emerged which reinforced the principal participants' views and aided the formulation of the final design framework.

This involved the concentration of through traffic onto one route instead of the current three, the other two routes being dedicated to a public transport corridor and, of greatest importance, a pedestrianised route forming the link between Broadmead and the city centre. This would create a new 'heart' to the area from which further pedestrian links would flow to nearby historic streets, including the mediaeval Christmas Steps. All were unanimous on one point - "demolition of the concrete overhead walkways"!

The Lewins Mead study, through analysis and wide ranging consultation, has produced a strong and realisable framework for future development. Implementation will fundamentally alter the character of the area so that it becomes not only the much needed link between Broadmead and the centre but also a viable element in the life and vibrancy of the city in its own right.

View of the site showing overhead walkways that were universally criticised in the public workshop.

Ideas showing the potential of a linear market within pedestrianised spaces.