Architecture Centre launches £25k appeal to develop its base into new hub for design and innovation

April 22, 2021

Bristol’s Architecture Centre is celebrating its 25th anniversary by unveiling ambitious plans to transform its Harbourside base into a vibrant home for design and placemaking.

The new café and cultural and education space will bring new life to the venue this summer, opening up its doors to debate the direction of the city and the wider region and provide a resilient future for the centre. 

The charity behind it has already raised £100,000 – 80% of the total cost of the work – and local suppliers, artists and craftspeople are ready to start.

It now aims to raise the remaining £25,000 through a Crowdfunder appeal and is calling on partners, the public and audiences to support its plan to transform 16 Narrow Quay into a new cultural landmark on Bristol’s waterfront.

Funders will receive a selection of rewards ranging from a drink on its new terrace to the chance to name the new education floor.

Other rewards include an annual pass to its talks programme and limited opportunities to name a seat or engrave one of 30 bespoke diamond-shaped brass tiles and become a permanent fixture of the building. Individuals and businesses can also sign up to become a member through the Crowdfunder.

The new design-themed, ground floor café and bar, called The Architect, will be a stylish space visualised by Bristol illustrator-turned-art director Gemma Randall, who worked on BBC series His Dark Materials.

Outside, a new terrace will create more space for visitors to enjoy a drink while taking in views of the Harbourside.

The first floor will become the cultural heart of the venue with the space kitted-out to host regular events about the design of our cities, homes and neighbourhoods, as well as being the control room for Bristol Open Doors, when 1,000 volunteers come together to make the well-loved festival happen.

The first floor will also house the charity’s award-winning diverse talent acceleration programme Shape My City for 15–18 year olds from across the region, which enables students to learn from and work alongside diverse inspirers from leading architectural, civil engineering and development companies including Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Arup, Landscape Institute, YTL and Buro Happold.

The Architecture Centre director Dr Anna Rutherford said: “Design has a profound effect on all of us every day, from the design of our commutes to our communities, of our homes to our hospitals and green spaces.

“We’re asking you to join us to create a new venue on the harbour, a place for people, politicians and professionals to come together to shape our city and our region. Help us raise the final £25,000 the charity needs to bring this new venue to life.”

Chair of Trustees Nick Childs added: “For 25 years The Architecture Centre has played a crucial role in shaping our city, from the development of the floating harbour itself to the recent The Green Way and future plans for Temple Church. Help us write our next chapter.”

Arts Council England South West area director Phil Gibby said The Architecture Centre had done a brilliant job developing creative engagement with architecture over the past 25 years.

“It is an organisation that consistently challenges itself to innovate and combines a passion for design excellence with a great track record for bringing people and places together,” he added.

Visit Bristol head of tourism Kathryn Davis said the new centre for design was an incredibly attractive offer and would benefit to the visitor economy.

The cultural hub would also safeguard the city’s historic harbour and give the area a vibrant family-friendly and European feel similar to what has been achieved at Wapping Wharf on the opposite side of the harbour.

The Crowdfunder runs until June 22. For information visit:

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