Architects in Bristol

If you are planning a development scheme and need an architect in Bristol, this article is here to help.

There are many great architecture firms in and around Bristol and we can show you how to identify the right one for your project.

Firstly, it’s important to use an architect with experience of similar projects to yours so that they can fully understand your vision. Secondly, check their reputation and reviews and thirdly, find out if they have a good communication channel with clients.

There are many other things to think about, so let’s get started!

This stylish two-storey extension at a 1990’s detached bungalow was carried out by Smith Maloney Architects of Bristol.

Bristol’s architecture

The largest city in the south west of England, Bristol is situated on the River Avon and River Frome.

Bristol has a strong maritime history as a port, trading goods such as cotton, tobacco, and wine across the Atlantic. One of the city’s most famous sons, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, helped design the floating harbour, which is still in use today, along with the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge spanning the Avon Gorge and River Avon.

Today, Bristol has a population of 567,099, and is known as a home to creative media, technology and electronics firms and the aerospace industry.

The city includes a mix of historic buildings and architectural styles, from the remains of a Norman castle and Tudor buildings to the Gothic Bristol Cathedral. There are also Victorian neighbourhoods and the Georgian streets of Clifton and Redland.

Bristol is noted as a green city, having over 400 parks and open spaces such as Clifton Downs overlooking the Avon Gorge.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Development of the built environment

The plan for the next 20 years is to build more houses, increase the amount of employment space and improve transport links. 

Bristol City Council, South Gloucestershire Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council and North Somerset Council are master planning the West of England Joint Spatial Plan, setting out an overall strategy for meeting the housing needs of the wider Bristol and Bath housing market to 2036.

It is looking at a need for 33,500 new and affordable homes to be delivered to Bristol by 2036. The Local Plan is being updated to show how this can be met via a new development strategy, identifying locations for development.

The council is also working with city partners to prepare a One City Plan; a vision for Bristol by 2050 in terms of connectivity, the economy, environment, health, homes and communities. This strategic planning aims to see more connected communities across the city, good urban design, new and affordable homes and more regeneration and development.

In the city centre, mixed use developments and sustainable design will create a diverse, vibrant place to live. Landscape architecture plans also include assessing flood risk.

Looking ahead, the council anticipates a population of 550,000 by 2050, in a city with world-class digital connectivity.

Why hire an architect?

Adding a Bristol based architect to your team can bring many benefits.

Firstly, they bring their knowledge of building design and construction. Secondly, they are likely to save you money by adding value in terms of space design, energy efficiency, choice of materials and attention to detail. Thirdly, they can guide you through obtaining planning permission and, if required, monitor the build, keeping an eye on costs.

It’s important to find the right Bristol architect who has experience in ventures like yours. As well as the basics above, they may be needed to prepare technical drawings for builders to quote on and be responsible for awarding building contracts.

The right architect will be aware of relevant council policies such as its environmental outlook, for instance its attitude to the regeneration of old buildings and ecological concerns. An architect can ensure a scheme has the necessary amount of biodiversity net gain (BNG) to comply with planners’ requirements.

British architects must be registered with the Architects’ Registration Board. Most become members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and work for a RIBA chartered architectural practice.

Bristol architecture projects

Now, we take a look at some of the best Bristol architects who are creating inspiring and imaginative design solutions. They range from practices specialising in historic buildings and sustainable design to those dealing with existing buildings, house extensions and interior design. We’re sure their ideas will help you choose an architect with a style to suit your masterplan.

RRA Architects, Gloucester

This architectural practice takes on large and small projects and has a broad portfolio. Whether you are constructing, adapting or expanding a building, they will guide you through the design and construction process. They have great reviews and their website states. “For more than 20 years we have been designing buildings where we strive to achieve integrated low energy solutions.”

This coach house in the curtilage of an 18th century grade II manor house was updated to create a stunning contemporary residence with a 21st century extension. The historic stable block was sympathetically renovated in the original style to retain its character.

Prime Meridian, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

In business since 1989, this residential and commercial architects’ firm has offices in Somerset and London and gets great reviews.

The top left and centre pictures below demonstrate a complete house refurbishment scheme involving a large, but dated, detached house. It involved remodelling the main elevations, building new extensions and converting the roof space to living space. The remaining pictures show a farmhouse which was refurbished and one of the former working farm’s buildings which was converted into a new dwelling.

Bristol Design + Architecture, Long Ashton

These Bristol architects have a broad range of expertise, dealing with all aspects of a scheme from the first meeting with a client, to drawing up designs and seeing the project through to completion.

They get good reviews and their website states: “The outcome of every one of our projects is the result of working closely with the client and communicating clearly with the builder, which ensures our clients are pleased with the final design, often making them return or recommend us to others.”

Shu architects

This boutique architecture studio specialises in working on challenging sites and is experienced in the re-use and refurbishment of buildings. Shu architects are also experts in sustainable design and low-energy new-build. They work on projects from inception through to completion and their website states: “Our passion and commitment to projects has helped ensure that clients return to use our services time and time again.”

Redmayne House, built in the 1800s, is an unlisted building in the Clifton Conservation Area. Previously offices, the client obtained consent to convert the house into eight apartments. This handsome scheme involved internal wall insulation, upgrading the sash windows, installing a new ventilation system to cater for more bathrooms and kitchens and fitting solar panels on the roof.

Sinclair Studios

With offices in Bristol and London, this firm specialises in residential projects in the south of England and offers a complete architect service. They have excellent reviews and comment: “We believe that a successful design is founded on creative thinking, a pragmatic understanding and an eye for detail.”

This gorgeous scheme at Netherfield Road in Clapham, London, involves a characterful renovation of a London townhouse.

Next steps

Now that you’ve seen these amazingly polished projects and interior design innovations, you can understand the value of an architect. There are many great architects in Bristol, from those specialising in conversions and extensions to others who take on major developments.

It’s best to contact several architects’ firms before making your decision. Talk through your scheme fully with each one and prepare a list of questions to ask so that you can compare the answers. It may be helpful to read our article 10 things to ask your architect first to get some tips.

At the end of this process, you should have found a practice with the architectural style to genuinely work with your vision.

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