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Mike Trice and George Ferguson

Mike Trice senior principal, Populous George Ferguson Bristol Mayor Project: Bristol Arena, Bristol, UK


International architecture firm Populous were chosen in March to design the £90m Bristol Arena in Bristol, UK.

The winning team, comprising of Populous (with Feilden Clegg Bradley, BuroHappold and Vanguardia) was selected from a shortlist of five to design the 12,000 seat multi-use venue.

“Our arena ticked all the boxes on function and form; it’s an eminently operatable building,” project architect Mike Trice, senior principal at Populous, told CLADmag.

The winning design is a flexible building that converts from a 12,000-seat arena to a more intimate venue for smaller events.

“The unique thing about the way it reconfigures is that it can go from a very small venue for 4,000 people up to a big venue for up to 12,000 people. It allows any sort of band to play in it and can cope with any sort of stage configuration,” said Trice. “It’s unique the way we’ve delivered it as an architectural piece.”

The exterior features a masonry plinth base, designed to reflect the industrial history of the area, with a crystalline disk above it.

The environmental sustainability of the building was a key factor in the choice of design. “We’re targeting a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating; the exact features that will be used will depend on the precinct-wide energy strategy that is agreed upon by the council,” said Trice.

Bristol Mayor and former RIBA president George Ferguson promised to bring an arena to Bristol as part of his election manifesto [he was elected Mayor in November 2012].

“This arena will strengthen Bristol’s attraction as a destination and it will be a major catalyst for the regeneration of the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, creating jobs and stimulating economic growth,” said Ferguson.

“The design offers real flexibility for programming for now and into the future.”

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