Somerset House

CBRE Investment Management

The refurbishment and extension of Somerset House secures the long-term future of a characterful 1960s office building set in the heart of Georgian Bristol

Somerset House, which was built in the late 1960s, is set in an area of Bristol characterised by Georgian villas and leafy residential squares. Constructed of alternating precast concrete panels and floor to ceiling glazing, the building’s simple design presents a stark contrast to its neighbours.

Whilst boasting plenty of character, the existing building failed to meet current fabric performance standards and its mechanical and electrical systems were out of date. It had also become vacant after a long-term tenant had relocated.

Our client saw this as an opportunity to enhance the overall offering of Somerset House with a refurbishment to create a vibrant, flexible, and accessible workplace suited to the needs of modern occupiers.

We have reflected the simplicity of the original design with a sensitive proposal that allows the existing building to retain its character whilst enhancing its overall appearance.

A single storey entrance extension, with new lobby and reception area, provides an enhanced arrival experience. This addition frees up space within the main building to accommodate increased WC provision and allows for greater flexibility within the office floorplates.

A second floor extension uplifts the external appearance of the building and provides additional net area to replace some of the space given over to core and amenity enhancements.

The new extensions are clearly expressed as differentiated elements that are distinctive but complementary to the existing building. They are cubic and minimal in form and material palette. The solid walls are panellised in the same proportions as the existing concrete facade.

To address accessibility issues and improve the building’s legibility and street presence, the scheme also features a level access into the new main reception with a series of stone walls that reflect the garden wall character of Canynge Road and form part of the wider landscape intervention.

Premium changing, showering and locker facilities with a range of bike storage solutions will encourage active and sustainable modes of transport.

By choosing to upgrade the existing building, we have been able to avoid the embodied carbon associated with demolition and redevelopment and protect the building’s long-term viability as a workplace.

Planning consent was achieved in March 2023. The project is due to complete Q4 2024 and is on track to achieve a high BREEAM rating.

“Combining design quality with technical understanding and market knowledge, Stride Treglown has been instrumental in achieving planning in a sensitive context. The team has developed a strong architectural language that continues inside, with a striking interior design scheme and new branding, to create a unique and exciting identity for Somerset House. Opting for considerate refurbishment, we have been able to lock in the building’s embodied carbon and secure its future as a workplace fit for the next generation of occupiers.”

Ben White, Director, V7