‘Exceptional landscaping’ on Old Market site promised as Wapping Wharf design practice appointed

September 27, 2019

The landscape architecture and urban design practice behind Bristol’s pioneering Wapping Wharf development has been appointed to another major regeneration scheme in the city – the former Gardiner Haskins site in Old Market.

London-headquartered Gillespies will work with developer First Base on its ambitious redevelopment of the landmark 2.25-acre site, now called Soapworks in recognition of its former industrial use. 

First Base, also based in London, acquired the site earlier this year and in June announced it had drawn up a £175m mixed-use scheme that includes modern workspace, new homes, an apart-hotel, cafes and restaurants.

First Base said a prominent feature of the redevelopment would be “exceptional landscaping and public realm improvements which will be enjoyed by those living, working and visiting the site”.

Gillespies has worked on major schemes across the UK, including the Senedd (National Assembly for Wales) in Cardiff, The Piece Hall in Halifax and MediaCityUK in Salford.

First Base held its first phase of consultation for Soapworks in July, in which it identified a clear desire from residents to see publicly accessible open space as part of the redevelopment.

A second round of consultation will take place later in the year.

The emerging landscaping proposals for Soapworks include residential courtyards and public squares that link parts of the site together, provide informal areas for residents and visitors to come together and enjoy while also connecting the development with the surrounding area from Temple Meads to Old Market and the city centre.

Gillespies partner Oliver Smith said: “We are thrilled to be working with First Base on this landmark scheme in the heart of the city and excited to share our initial landscaping proposals with the general public.

“Our design approach is to create a series of beautiful, inclusive spaces that can be used throughout the day by local people to live, work and play. The landscaping will naturally open up the redundant site and help improve connectivity from Old Market to Temple Meads.”

First Base project director Lucinda Mitchell added: “We look forward to working closely with Gillespies, Bristol City Council and the local community to deliver high-quality, well-connected and truly sustainable public spaces as part of the wider Soapworks development.”

The site includes an iconic Grade II listed building, dating back to the 1860s and originally the home of Christopher Thomas & Brothers, manufacturers of soap and candles.

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