St George's Bristol

Clifton, Bristol

Since 1976, St George’s Bristol has been a cultural landmark for musicians and concert goers in the UK’s South West. As modes of performance, production, funding and audience expectations evolve, this extension to the Grade II* Listed concert hall helps the venue to generate additional income and enhance the visitor experience through a flexible suite of multifunctional spaces.

The brief required us to reconsider the churchyard to provide a welcoming café-bar to accommodate a full house of 560 patrons, multipurpose learning, rehearsal and event spaces, as well as back-of-house areas for management and performers. In response, the extension is conceived as part of the landscape; a ‘non-building’ that relates to the stepped terraces of Robert Smirke’s original churchyard to make full use of the sloping site topography and allowing old and new to breathe. These new terraces define a number of fluid internal and external spaces that serve to fundamentally ingrain the building into its landscape.

The extension mediates between old and new, lightly touching the historic fabric. Between the buildings, the glazed link becomes a powerful transition space, light and open to the sky.In contrast, the lower levels are heavy, crypt-like spaces, connected to each other through the existing axes of the church. In-situ concrete walls, columns and soffits root the building to the ground.

Spaces on the upper floors are designed for rehearsal, performance and study. An oculus draws light into this area and focuses views to the sky. These rooms become a new internal terrace, as much part of the churchyard itself as an extension to the church building.

2020 RIBAJ Best on Show Award, South West
2020 RIBA South West Award, finalist
2019 Bristol Civic Society Design Award
2019 Bristol Property Awards, Highly Commended Transformation

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