2A1M in collaboration with Lindsay Bush of Ambush Urbanism, have proposed a radical new approach to affordable housing in Central Bristol. Our scheme is a response to a competition brief set by Brighter Places, Bristol's largest independent housing association, for approximately 70 units units on Midland Road, in the Old Market district.
Midland Road is sandwiched between the historic grain of Old Market and the light industry of St Philip’s Marsh. The site enjoys a strong link with the iconic Palace Hotel, which proudly stands on the intersection of Midland Road and Old Market. Our building, The Spoke, responds directly to this relationship; with its height and curved north corner initiating a dialogue with the former Hotel and the Old Market corridor.
The high point of the building is at the northern corner, facing the bustle of Old Market, from there it cascades down towards the south with a series of inhabitable roof terraces, reducing in scale to meet the open spaces of Hannah More Primary School and taking advantage of the abundant south light.
The Spoke responds to an urgent need for housing that is integrated, affordable and sustainable. The mixed- income, mixed-tenure complex comprises 68 high-quality homes. Two living wings straddle an open courtyard, wrapped in a concrete shell which shelters the homeowners within. The scheme balances the need for community and convenience with privacy and individual identity. With abundant greenery and a village-like character, it demonstrates how density can benefit wellbeing and that efficiency need not be boring. It celebrates urban compaction and buys into the sharing economy, reducing the need for duplication, and unnecessary consumption.
Entering the building through a puncture in the concrete shell, residents walk through lush greenery to arrive at a generous entrance lobby, the first in a network of social spaces around which the building is shaped. Communality is at the heart of The Spoke, with designated areas for shared activities, including kitchens and a library.
Circulation spaces facilitate social contact, with inviting open-air stairs, seating recesses, and break-out spaces. The fifth and eighth floor rooftops are again communal, equipped with laundries, drying lines, sheds and social rooms for various functions.
The building’s orientation directs apartments’ outlooks to the south; with double-glazing, insulated cladding and variable openings allowing users to ‘operate’ their homes as needed, reducing energy consumption. The uptake of the heat network, green electricity supplemented with solar power, rainwater-harvesting and comprehensive recycling systems empower residents to live responsibly within their means.
Each unit enjoys a balcony or an allotted patch of roof, or both. The open plan arrangements maximise efficiency, and clever built-in joinery provides ample storage. A wide variety of geometries, orientations and heights mean every home feels unique.