Our 53rd Big Idea for Bristol

12th November 2019
Our 53rd Big Idea for Bristol

We love our home city. That’s why we’re always coming up with new ideas to make it an even better, healthier and greener place.

Back in 2015, inspired by Bristol’s year as Green Capital of Europe, we thought of 52 ways to cut pollution, congestion and wasted energy by offering greener alternatives, as well as smaller ideas to bring communities together.

This month, Gregg Latchams Solicitors presented us with a perfect opportunity to lead a Construction Breakfast themed around ways to shape a vibrant future for Bristol. And so, our 53rd Big Idea was born…

Idea 53: Imagining an Urban Wellbeing Zone for Bristol

When coming up with a vision for a new healthy heartspace in Bristol, one place stood out for us – Castle Park.

Castle Park is a complicated site. Despite its long history, it’s only been a park for 40 years. 100 years ago, it was a commercial hub for the city, with densely packed housing and commercial enterprises rubbing shoulders. With major developments planned, the area around Castle Park continues to change. Should the park evolve too?

Could we continue to celebrate its rich history but make it an even better public space that reflects Bristol’s identity as a sustainable, ambitious and inclusive city? There are many challenges but we believe there are also fantastic opportunities…

Imagining Castle Park as a healthy heartspace for Bristol.

These are just ideas but they are all doable!

  • What if we looked at the park as a whole rather than just focusing on the St Mary Le Port end, which other studies seem to have done?
  • What if we improved the routes through the park and made them more welcoming? We could create a vibrant heart where these routes converged in the centre, with new play areas and an urban beach.
  • What if we peeled up some of the edges of the park and fitted buildings underneath, so that the green still flowed above them, but we improved frontages to streets around the park, created more activity and helped generate funds for improving the park?
  • What if we made a new public space at the top of Corn Street and improved other entrances into the park?
  • What if we extended the glazed arcade in St Nicholas Market with a new river-facing wintergarden with PVs integrated into the glass, generating sustainable energy?
  • What if we flattened out some of the mounds in the eastern half to create a large grass amphitheatre for big community events?
  • What if we introduced a long ribbon of south-facing steps and seating areas that embraced the river, instead of the large walls that divide up the park and obstruct movement through it?
  • What if we glazed St Peter’s church to make it useable all year around?
  • What if we introduced more planting and growing opportunities? Could Castle Park be Bristol’s new central Botanical garden?

Great work is already underway by community groups involved in making the park a better place. For us, this dreaming exercise is about contributing to that vision. We’d love to know what you think about our ideas. Even better, we’d love to hear your own thoughts about the future of Castle Park.

Get in touch with our Place team: Rob Delius, Head of Sustainability; Paul Seaver, Urban Designer; and Isabelle Carter, Head of Landscape Design. Or get involved with the conversation on Twitter using #Idea53.