Heart of Grass

A Bristol urban regeneration project puts a meanwhile park firmly centre stage.

We are very fortunate to be involved with some stunning urban regenerations and, this month, we’re excited to share the Glassfields Bristol story with you.

Right in the centre of Bristol city centre, and only a five-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads station, the three-acre Glassfields site is a significant mixed-use redevelopment project.

Glassfields takes its name from its former life at the original glassworks site of a bottle-making factory and gin distillery. As well as a major commercial office initiative, named The Distillery, the site also boasts a brand-new Leonardo Hotel, offering 197 bedrooms, meeting rooms, and a bar and restaurant. Both developments are targeting BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and EPC A accreditation.

The Glassfields Bristol urban rejuvenation. (Image credit: B|D Landscape Architects and Jack Hobhouse.)

Appointed by developers, Royal London Asset Management, in 2020 B|D Landscape Architects was asked to develop proposals for a new meanwhile park at the centre of the Glassfields development.

The aim was to design a central public space which would be in place for a minimum of three years, to be enjoyed by onlookers, visitors and hotel guests alike while also creating a seamless public link between the Temple Quarter and the Old Market areas. A blend of soft and green landscape was desired to create a harmonised space encouraging office staff and visitors to the area sit, rest and enjoy.

A tranquil environment. (Image credit: B|D Landscape Architects and Jack Hobhouse.)

The former brownfield site was transformed throughout 2021, with swathes of native wildflower meadows (supplied by yours truly), undulating ornamental planting, tree planting and wildlife stations. As well as providing a green and attractive outlook for the adjacent buildings, the meanwhile park has reconnected the industrial landscape with nature while also mitigating the impacts of development.

The team at B|D Landscape Architects has done an amazing job, creating bespoke wayfinding elements and playful paths that lead visitors into a central event space which has been inspired by the local connection with glass blowing and bottle making. Two large bespoke corten benches were designed in collaboration with a local Bristol-based artist and help to enclose the central space which is brought to life by up-lit bespoke drainage channels and a Gobo projector.

(Image credit: B|D Landscape Architects and Jack Hobhouse.)

Our involvement came to the fore in September 2021, a month that saw us shipping just shy of 1,900m2 of turf to the site. We supplied a combination of Wildflower Turf® Native Enriched and Wildflower Turf® Shade Tolerant to the project, with CW Duke taking care of the installation. The use of Wildflower Turf® has ensured that the Glassfield’s wildflower meadow is low-maintenance, drought tolerant and pollinator friendly.

A key challenge of the project was the nature of the site itself. With construction occurring around the designated area, conditions for planting were not favourable. Likewise, differing gradients also presented their own challenges.

(Image credit: B|D Landscape Architects and Jack Hobhouse.)

Compacted soil, rubble and existing below-ground services meant the site would require imported soil and improvement works in order to sustain ornamental planting.

With the Landscape Architects keen to avoid importing large quantities of soil, we worked closely with B|D to ensure that the turf supplied would thrive at Glassfields with minimal requirements, and the turf went down on only 150mm of topsoil.

As well as providing an easy-care and low-maintenance urban wildlife sanctuary, the area also helps to offset the carbon footprint of the over-arching Glassfields development and assists to improve the well-being of visitors.

(Image credit: B|D Landscape Architects and Jack Hobhouse.)

We are not the only ones who believe the project is a winner, with B|D Landscape Architects also nominated as a finalist at the prestigious Landscape Institute Awards in the category of “Excellence in Place Regeneration”.  The Awards will be held on the 24th of November and Wildflower Turf Ltd is once again sponsoring the award for Excellence in Biodiversity Conservation and Enhancement.

We wish the team at B|D the very best of luck and we look forward to updating you further following the LI Awards Ceremony later this week.