Castle Park 'exemplar' of placemaking issues in Bristol retrospective and symposium

A contested city park in Bristol is a key part of an exhibition and symposium on placemaking and architecture in the city which opens on Friday.

Castle Park from the air with River Avon to the left. Image: © Arpingstone/Wikimedia
Castle Park from the air with River Avon to the left. Image: © Arpingstone/Wikimedia

Place, Time + Architecture celebrates the 20th anniversary of The Architecture Centre in Bristol and is part-sponsored by The Landscape Institute and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The retrospective will look at the past, present and future state of architecture and place-making in the city, tracing the changes in Bristol over the past two decades along a timeline that focuses on how significant buildings, places and people have shaped the city.

The exhibition has a special focus on Castle Park, the city’s historic shopping area bombed during the Blitz, turned into a park and the site of plans to regenerate, with consequent loss of green space.

The centre has asked Arup to "act as provocateurs" and ask a series of questions about the park which will form part of the exhibition. Then a symposium at M-Shed, Bristol on 23 September will also focus on the green space, which lies by the river and contains the ruined tower of St Mary-le-Port church, the ruins of St Peter's church, the partially excavated remains of Bristol Castle, a sensory herb garden and five silver birch trees as a memorial to the beaches of the D-Day landings.

Architecture Centre manager Christine Davis told Horticulture Week the park was an exemplar of the kind of issues and changes Bristol faces.

"It’s a really important site. The issues that we will be looking at in the exhibition and the symposium are about creating great places and places that work for people. That’s easier said than done, you always have to negotiate between the different needs and series of people.

"Castle Park is a very interesting exemplar. Even if you’re not from Bristol it has relevance, it highlights the challenges of urban design and placemaking that we all face. It’s a very well-used park but it needs regeneration with an old building at one end which is falling down and is a complete eyesore. We hope talking about the park will act a springboard to wider discussions."

The symposium panel includes members of Bristol City Society, Timothy Mowl, emeritus professor of History of Architecture and Designed Landscapes at the University of Bristol, Peter Murray, co-founder of Blueprint magazine and chairman of New London Architecture, Barra Mac Ruairi, strategic director of Place, Bristol City Council, Ivan Harbour director of architectural firm RSH+P and keynote speaker, centre founder David Mellor and Sasha Lubetkin, The Architecture Centre’s first director.

The symposium runs from 8.30am to 3.30pm and costs £20 or £15 concessions. The Architecture Centre is also hosting a guided walk this Wednesday from 6pm, for £7/£5.

Booking for both the symposium and the walk are through or by phone on 0117 922 1540. 

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