This scheme to re-establish a former Dominican Friary (scheduled ancient monument) in the heart of a new civic quarter was part of a major, retail-led, mixed-use scheme at Broadmead in the centre of Bristol. The friary was a survivor of 2nd World War bombing, which destroyed the majority of the city’s shopping district. In the 1950s a new shopping centre was built which relegated the friary to the backyards of the shops, amongst service areas and car parking.
Novell Tullett was commissioned by the Bristol Alliance (Hammerson and Land Securities) to restore the setting to the friary and design the public realm for Cabot Circus (new streets and squares; pedestrian areas of the highway; a home zone and roof gardens) due to our local knowledge and design expertise in complex city centre schemes.
A light touch was essential in the design of the external space for Quakers Friars and our objective was to unite the historic building with its new setting in a contemporary, understated style. Archaeological remains and English Heritage’s constraints in the building context needed careful consideration in the design process and four statuesque existing trees were retained and protected through the construction phase. These trees and new fountains rising from the York stone paving bring new vitality to the space.
Cabot Circus and Quakers Friars opened in September 2008 and the square is now a venue for visitors, shoppers, diners and passers-by to enjoy the restored friary in a contemporary setting.