Bristol Zoo – from car park to sustainable, urban living

Our inter-disciplinary team of architects and planners have worked together with long-standing client, Bristol Zoological Society, to unlock the potential of the West Car Park at Bristol Zoo. The team has gained full planning permission for a high-quality residential development of 62 homes, including 14 affordable homes, which will make a positive and sustainable contribution to the Clifton and Hotwells Conservation Area.

Located adjacent to the main Zoo site, the development plays a key role in funding the relocation of the Zoo to Wild Place Project following the unfortunate decline in visitors and pressure post Covid-19.

The challenging, 0.51ha, brownfield site contains historic boundary walls and several large mature trees, along with a series of existing ancillary buildings. This allowed our team to robustly test a number of design options before the planning application was submitted.

Following an extensive analysis of the site and its context, the scheme we proposed is borne out of its context and desire for Bristol Zoological Society to leave a positive and sustainable legacy. Our architects and planners worked closely with the client and consultant team to develop initial feasibility studies, engage with local stakeholders and members of the public through an extensive consultation and pre-application before leading on developing the full planning application.

The scheme provides a variety of homes across two apartment blocks and a series of mews houses, ranging in height from 2-storeys up to 4.5-storeys, akin to the conservation area and in line with market trends. The homes range from one bedroom apartments through to larger four bedroom mews houses, with the majority benefitting from private outdoor space in the form of balconies or gardens. The apartments have been designed to benefit from natural daylighting and ventilation and have large windows, many flats are dual aspect.

THE DESIGN OF THESE NEW HOMES SHOWCASES HOW HIGH-QUALITY URBAN LIVING CAN BE INTEGRATED INTO A HERITAGE SETTING, WITH THE SCHEME RESPONDING APPROPRIATELY TO NEIGHBOURING BUILDINGS THROUGH MATERIALITY AND DETAILING. WE’RE INCREDIBLY PROUD TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE FUTURE SUCCESS OF THE ZOO AND PROVIDE NEW SUSTAINABLE HOMES – BOTH OF WHICH ASSIST THE LOCAL COMMUNITY/REGION.

Tom Macklen, Architectural Director

We have chosen high quality local materials in a sensitive and considerate approach, appropriate to the conservation area setting. In addition, the material palette chosen has a low lifecycle impact and embodied carbon, meaning they are durable and with minimal maintenance over their life cycle.

Project Details

  • Sensitive location within conservation area
  • 62 homes
  • 20% affordable provision
  • 0.51Ha brownfield site
  • 121dph density
  • Sustainable design
  • Biodiversity net gain
  • High quality urban living
SUSTAINABILITY HAS BEEN FUNDAMENTAL TO THE DEVELOPMENT AND HAS BEEN A GOLDEN THREAD RUNNING THROUGH THE SCHEME FROM THE OUTSET. WE WORKED COLLABORATIVELY WITH THE PROJECT TEAM TO ENSURE THAT THE SCHEME ALIGNED WITH THE COUNCILS’ AMBITIONS, THE ZOO’S LEGACY, AND OUR ROLE AS DESIGNERS TO CONSIDER THE IMPACT OF OUR PROPOSALS.

Alex Paul, Architect

Sustainability has been considered at a site wide scale through the masterplan including passive design considerations and connectivity. The scheme has been designed taking a fabric first approach to reduce energy demand focussing on optimal form, high performance building fabric, and highly efficient low carbon heating via air source heat pumps. The building fabric design is in line with the indicative Future Homes Standard specification which is being adopted by Bristol City Council in the near future. It is anticipated that site emissions would reduce by around 82% from the Building Regulations baseline, surpassing the 75% improving required by the Future Homes Standard.

The focus of our landscape strategy and public realm design is on placemaking, quality of design and overall appearance. It considers how pedestrian, cyclist and vehicles will use and pass through the space to ensure a holistically considered and shared space.

Bio-diversity improvements were integrated into the design through the inclusion of bat boxes, bird boxes, and bee bricks, and there will be a net gain of trees once the site is developed. Sedum roofs, large living walls and soft landscaping will also be included within the development. Plentiful of cycle parking is provided to encourage sustainable transport alongside EV charging points and an electric car club scheme.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SITE FOR A HIGH-QUALITY AND SUSTAINABLY-DESIGNED RESIDENTIAL SCHEME IS A GREAT OUTCOME FOR CLIFTON, AND FOR BRISTOL. THE SITE WILL PROVIDE ACCOMMODATION FOR A RANGE OF FAMILIES WHO WOULD NOT OTHERWISE BE ABLE TO FIND HOMES IN THIS PART OF BRISTOL, WHERE THERE IS EASY ACCESS TO EXISTING AMENITIES AND TRANSPORT LINKS. THE APPROVAL OF THE SCHEME IN THE FACE OF SUBSTANTIAL LOCAL OPPOSITION IS TESTAMENT TO THE STRENGTH OF THE DESIGN AND THE DESIRE OF THE BRISTOL ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY TO LEAVE A POSITIVE LEGACY ON THEIR SITE.

Harry Quartermain, Planning Associate