Mayor launches competition to find best design for indoor arena
BRISTOL'S mayor George Ferguson has launched a competition to find a design for the city's long-awaited indoor arena.
The new man in charge at City Hall has pledged that the venue will be up and running within the next four years.
And this week he told an audience of architects in London that he is launching a competition to find a design to match his ambitions for the city he now runs.
As reported in The Post, the arena is part of an ambitious master plan which will see much of the city centre transformed.
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Speaking at a conference at the New London Architecture Centre he said: "What I am saying is Bristol is a laboratory for change. We are a test bed: come and try it and help me change it."
Mr Ferguson, himself a former architect known for his ambition schemes and ideas including the Tobacco Factory, is keen to bring his vision to the city.
He said: "I am going to launch a competition for a 12,000-seat arena. Bristol is left off the concert map because we are the only city without a proper arena."
He wants the new arena to be the most environmentally-friendly venue of its kind ever built. His vision sees the arena as part of the landscape and a statement for the city.
Land has already been set aside for the scheme behind Temple Meads station on the site of the former diesel depot.
Planning permission is being drawn up for an access bridge and the site has already been cleared for construction.
The Local Enterprise Partnership, which is heading up the scheme, has been talking to various operators to get the project off the ground.
Mr Ferguson said: "The arena shouldn't be a box in a car park, like so many arenas tend to be.
"It must be outward-looking and animate the space around it, and be really embedded in the city."
Speaking about his wider vision for the city Mr Ferguson added: "I am going to be intolerant of bad architecture.
"The former head of planning in Bristol was a highways engineer who let anything and everything through – including office blocks stacked on top of multi-storey car parks.
"My idea of good architecture is about creating place. It's not about providing glitzy iconic buildings, competing one against the other, but how we use the best of what we have got."
"It is important that you feel you're being welcomed into the city, after all, we want people to come back."
Mr Ferguson has also met with two of Europe's leading urban planners Jan Gehl from Copenhagen and David Mackay from Barcelona.
He added: "This is not about beautifying the city, it is about making it vibrant.
"None of this is about what the council spends, but is about making partnerships with the private sector.
"This isn't in conflict at all and in fact it may achieve real returns for the city."