I was out and about with my son enjoying the sunshine and the sights and sounds of the City Docks last week when I noticed that the latest section of Harbourside (Building 4) was practically complete.  As a Planner it is a well honed habit of mine that I tend to look at the buildings and spaces around me – tends to be a bit dangerous when driving though!

I couldn’t quite believe it but the latest architectural addition to the area was a marked improvement on the residential blocks that have already been built. Ok the design and architectural detailing of the building is not as ambitious or creative as it could have been. But the use of materials, which now includes timber and darker brickwork alongside the bright white render, is much more appropriate to its context and as such it sits relatively well adjacent to the regenerated Gas Works buildings.  I know this will not have pleased everyone, as there is a desire for new buildings in this area to better reflect the Docks industrial heritage (the buildings around the SS GB probably do work better in this respect), although this continues to form part of the suite of buildings within the Harbourside complex.  As such there will be some who hate this with a passion, but I think the majority will think that this is a step forward. So good going Edward Cullinan Architects.  

Small steps I know but hopefully these can these lead to much more creative and ambitious architectural schemes for the Docks and Bristol in general.  God knows the city needs it, especially as we are rapidly heading towards Bristol’s year as Europe’s Green Capital, 2015 and we don’t actually have that many bespoke, high quality new buildings to show for a city of this stature – but that’s just my opinion and I’m sure others will disagree. Question is whose responsibility is it to ensure that the architectural vision and quality of schemes improves – Applicants, Architects, Planners??