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Place, Time + Architecture

Christine Davis reflects on the weekend of events marking the 20th anniversary of the Architecture Centre that formed part of the Bristol800 programme.

The Architecture Centre celebrated its anniversary by showcasing exactly what an architecture centre is, and can do, at a Bristol800 Weekender.

From Friday 23 to Sunday 25 September 2016, the centre hosted a diverse programme of events entitled Place Time + Architecture that reframed established theories on architecture and the city, using the passage of time to reflect on the nature of this place that we call Bristol. Produced in partnership with UWE’s Department of Architecture and the Built Environment the weekender events asked: Who shaped the city? What has been achieved over the past twenty years? And, what sort of city do we want our future generations to inherit?

Over 3,000 people participated, helping to the mark the centre’s anniversary and its significance in the city. The weekender was the culminating point of celebrations that included the biggest ever Bristol Doors Open Day, which in 2016 welcomed 50,000 visits to 81 venues across the city.

Sounding City artist commission
The weekender hosted the culminating musical performance of the Architecture Centre’s artist commission Sounding City. Over the summer artist Jennie Savage worked with communities across Bristol to collect stories about Place and what it means to them. Local musicians then translated these stories into song, and performed their compositions at the weekender Sunday Street Party. As musician Sharon Lazibyrd explains, ‘this would be the first time I would be consciously constructing a song around a place’. The final part of the Sounding City project will be an exhibition opening in November, together with the artist ‘in conversation’ with Dr Rachel Sara and launch of the LP that was recorded live at the weekender.

Place Time + Architecture exhibition
Coinciding with the weekender, the Architecture Centre’s anniversary exhibition reviewed 20 years of architecture and place-making in Bristol, with specially commissioned photography by Frances Gard and Mika Zelikman exploring some of the changes in the city over the past two decades and a timeline focusing on significant buildings, places and people and how they have shaped the city.

Anniversary Symposium
Delving further into the place-making of Bristol, the Architecture Centre hosted a symposium in M Shed with an audience of over 100 city leaders, designers and thinkers. Following a ‘pecka kucha’ styled morning session debating the future of Castle Park, the keynote lecture ‘From Pompidou to Barangaroo’ was presented by Ivan Harbour of Roger Stirk Harbour and Partners.

Talks, walks … and a street party
The weekender included a number of design talks, soapbox sessions and guided city walks with leading architects, academics artists and placemakers. Andrew McMullan of Heatherwick Studio presented, to a full house, his approach on place-making and how to design better places in his talk ‘Making Places’. Design experts Alastair Brook and David Mellor led free guided walking tours to Wapping Wharf, Millennium Square and Queen Square. While Elena Marco (UWE Bristol), Jennie Savage (artist commissioned with Sounding City), Childs + Sulzmann Architects and Barefoot Architects each took their place upon the soapbox recounting what ‘well-designed places’ means to them. And the Sunday street party drew crowds of over 3,000 to Narrow Quay to get hands-on with architecture and place-making.

UWE Bristol ‘place interventions’
In collaboration with the Department of Architecture and the Built Environment at UWE Bristol, the Sunday Street Party of the weekender was populated with a number of design interventions devised and delivered by 60+ masters of architecture students. Responding to a number of design briefs, students devised a public consultation space for the gap-site adjoining the centre, designed information hubs for the public to express their opinions on the city’s design, built the Sounding City music bandstand, and animated the Architecture Centre frontage.

Fun Palace with Shape by City
Young participants of the Architecture Centre’s Shape my City programme collaborated with artist Scott Farlow to design and construct a Fun Palace for the Sunday Street Party. The Fun Palace challenged the young designers’ imaginative designing skills while encouraging the family users on the weekend to think about how space can be used in a creative way.

Header photo: Sounding City bandstand (Architecture centre).

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