2A1M were invited to submit an entry for Goram Homes’ Castle Park competition. Goram Homes supports our principles; building high-quality, and environmentally responsible homes, communities and cities, whilst encouraging sustainable and socially conscious architecture.
The competition asked for ‘big, bold, innovative ideas’ for a housing development to be built in Castle Park, above a new water source heat pump which was completed in June 2022.
We understand the importance of Castle Park to Bristol, whilst also appreciating its potential for development. We believe that unlocking these small sites within a city, which could otherwise be overlooked, is key to delivering the high-quality homes that are so needed today.
We loved working on our submission, and were particularly pleased to be invited to a competition with such renowned competitors.
Our Submission Entry:
Located on the banks of the Avon between Bristol Temple Meads and the city centre, Castle Park lies at the heart of Bristol’s geography and history. It provides valuable green space for a variety of users, a scenic route for commuters, a space for recreation and celebration and for nearby resident’s crucial garden relief and moments of pause on busy days.
Bristol began here, and understanding its history is imperative to the proposed development. The City’s castle occupied the site until the 16th Century, later, the area was densely developed right up the water’s edge. This fine medieval grain remained until the Bristol Blitz, when wholesale damage resulted in the open space known today as Castle Park.
The Goram Homes site sits on layers of intense urban development that reveal the City’s growth, success, and trauma. Our proposal builds on this history and is equally emblematic of our City today.
The site is surrounded by a variety of typologies, each providing a different insight into Bristol. Regenerated warehouses across the water to the South, medieval spires beyond the park to the west and immediately to the east a series of large, characterful post-war developments clustered around the Old Market roundabout.
Our proposal aims to respond to this rich urban context while providing vital habitats for biodiversity and minimising carbon impact.
At its base, enveloping the energy centre, is a masonry plinth, responding to the historic walls of the iconic floating harbour and providing an ideal habitat for all manner of insects and small animals. A transfer slab above allows Castle Park to be extended to the south, increasing green space and ensuring the City and its civic stakeholders feel firmly prioritised at the scheme’s core.
101 residential units are stacked above this masonry plinth, proudly associating themselves with the high rises and warehouses to the south and east. By lifting the western end of the building, importance has been placed on retaining and framing the views towards St Nicholas’ Church and St Philip’s Bridge. This lifted end also allows Castle Park to continue unobstructed to the water’s edge.
Our bold proposal aims to be carbon negative over a 50-year period by constructing the residential core from prefabricated Glulam and CLT, which can reduce carbon by 60% compared to a conventional concrete design. This is paired with a double-skin glass façade to protect the structure and regulate internal temperatures. A green roof provides additional habitats for flora and fauna and an opportunity for solar or wind energy generation.
We believe the government is finally recognising the advantages of building with timber, but this revolution is hampered by legislation and insurance. Whilst necessarily conforming with the legislation, we believe that the Goram Homes site provides the opportunity to push design boundaries and be used as an exemplar of sustainable timber construction.
Our images establish our proposal at three different scales. Celebrating and prioritising each of these perspectives is fundamental to the success of the project; from securing the cooperation of stakeholders, through to ensuring that the inhabitants of the tower are living in a place they are proud to call home.