Our second consultation event took place on 20th October: this time involving stakeholders involved in building design and planning processes. Joining Suspension Bridge Trustees with expertise in architecture and building design were representatives from the Civic Society, Avon and Somerset Police ‘Designing out Crime’ team, CHIS (Clifton & Hotwells Improvement Society), Leigh Woods Society, Long Ashton Parish Council, the Downs Committee and North Somerset County Council’s Planning Department.
Niall Phillips of Purcell Architects presented a slideshow of buildings which could provide inspiration through design and material choices and provided a precedent for small, but well-designed buildings. (See it here.) Niall told the group that the slideshow would provide inspiration for:
- 3D shapes
- Materials and palettes
- The blending and mixing of materials
The themes that emerged from the slideshow were:
- Use of stone, glass or curved glass, wood or timber cladding and corten steel (rust effect finish)
- Buildings which were temporary or manufactured off-site and concrete constructions, which can be erected quickly
- Careful craftsmanship
- Layers of detail in the design (e.g.: perforated metal creating light, shadow and pattern)
- The use of stone for creative effects or interesting textures and finishes
- Angular, simple or unconventional shapes
- Curved roofing which provided shelter – and walls which created indoor and outdoor spaces
- Overhangs (to shade the south-facing buildings)
- Shutters which could transform a building from day to night mode
- Buildings which blend into a landscape or are camouflaged against it.
Niall said that the buildings created must be of an architectural quality that would make Bristolians feel proud of them. He stated that “being bold might work” but recognised that they are to be placed in a sensitive location. Comments were then invited from the group:
The new toll booths have to be visible: it is reassuring for people to know that someone is there 24 hours a day.
Niall: The visibility of the toll houses is important, not just so that people know where to go if they need change or assistance – but also because the Attendants working inside need to have clear sightlines to carry out their work.
The toll booths need to be subservient or complementary to the Suspension Bridge. A lot of the designs presented seem to be iconic in their own right.
Niall: We agree, but it is also important that the booths say something about the bridge. They have to be of a quality, show that an effort has been made in design and they have to resonate with their environment. “We don’t want to build something ordinary.”
The materials used must have a longevity. They are near a busy road and they need to stay clean and bright.
Niall: We shall be keeping clear of anything that is highly sculptural and will probably only use wood as an accent as we recognise that it is hard to keep clean.
Would it be possible to build a glass booth so visitors can see through it to the bridge?
Niall: There are a few issues which prevent this – privacy for the staff, controlled light levels for the CCTV system and security for the money which is handled. We intend to control the use of glass and use it to create the correct views for the Attendants.
Will the design be the same at both ends?
Niall: Probably not: the location and context of the buildings differs significantly.
The second part of the workshop involved the group in a practical discussion of booth layout and floorplan. A number of designs were drawn up and new ideas came to light which will be used to influence the next stage of the design process. The group also discussed the use of the existing historic toll booths and how these rooms might be given a more useful purpose.
What happens next?
The next steps of the process are to:
- Develop a range of design options
- Discuss these designs with the Trustees and Attendants on an operational level
- Schedule a date for the next consultation, which will be a discussion of 3D designs.