Engine Shed

Childs+ Sulzmann architects were commissioned by The Science Foundation in partnership with Bristol University and Bristol City Council to convert the vacant space at Brunel’s iconic Old Station at Bristol Temple Meads into a collaboration space for high-tech innovation and investment.

Working closely with Historic England and the local authorities we obtained the necessary consents to adapt this internationally important Grade I listed building. The project was designed, tendered and completed from start to finish in less than nine months including achieving the planning and listed building consents required.

We started with the empty volume of the listed building designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and completed in 1841. We didn’t want to touch the original fabric, the complex roof, the cast iron frame or the neo-Tudor facades. So we chose to occupy the space using a collection of self-supporting structures and frameworks. The scheme overlays very contemporary additions onto the existing historic fabric to dramatic effect.  The result is a very theatrical environment, a film set where the occupants become the actors in the drama.

We generated a number of very different working environments to suit the different user groups – formal, informal, open plan and cellular – all connected with shared space which encourages serendipitous encounters, dialogue and collaborations.

Within months of opening Engine Shed was declared the best university incubation space in the world in the UBI’s world ranking list. Soon after Childs+Sulzmann architects won the CIOB Regional Heritage Award for the project.