Students move into New Bridewell development

A new development built to accommodate 500 Bristol students over 15 floors in the heart of the city centre has opened to welcome the new student intake this month.

This £30m scheme has been built by developers Watkins Jones on the site of the former 10-storey New Bridewell police headquarters. In addition to purpose built student space the development also features 4 retail units at ground floor level. 

There were significant challenges to achieving the development programme because of the unique location and features of the site.  There are busy highways along three sides and the culvert taking the River Frome through the centre of Bristol runs very close to the site.  In addition, it was believed that the defensive wall built around Bristol in Norman times may have crossed the corner of the site and there was therefore significant archaeological interest in the development.

“I’d just like to say a massive thank you, to you all.  We have all worked extremely hard to get to this point in the scheme.   We have a really good team and can all be proud of what we have achieved to date.”  Gavin Taliesin Thomas, Project Manager, Watkin Jones Student Accommodation (South Wales and South West).

Clarkebond provided an extensive range of engineering services on the scheme, from concept to completion, including ground investigations, ground engineering, external civil engineering and drainage and structural engineering services. The skill and experience of all engineering teams were called upon to overcome the particular challenges of this project:

  • Concept designs for the scheme had to be extremely flexible to accommodate the uncertain location of both the culvert and any anticipated historic remains of the city wall.The precise location of both could not be established prior to the site excavation which it turn could not be carried out until planning consent had been achieved.

  • Clarkebond sequenced the demolition and removal of the former 1960s structure.The 10-storey high building with underground public car park was connected to adjacent buildings by overhead concrete walkways which also served as fire exits for those buildings. Two reinforced concrete bridges across adjacent roads also had to be removed. Clarkebond worked with the demolition contractor to manage the safe demolition and removal of the walkways and bridges. Clarkebond also designed temporary works to prop the perimeter basement walls and highways.
  • The ground investigatiom revealed the presence of underground diesel fuel storage tanks which were removed and a validation report was completed.

  • An underground survey of the culvert to establish its location and condition was carried out by divers under Clarkebond’s supervision, and a second survey following the works was also carried out to ensure that no damage had been caused during the works.

  • Foundation designs had to accommodate the presence of the former underground car park and piled foundations of the 1960's buildings.

Following the culvert survey and archaeological excavations, Clarkebond proceeded with detailed designs for foundations, drainage, civils and structures.

“The complicated ground conditions were a significant challenge to achieving the programme and had to be managed carefully.  The end date was non-negotiable!  The whole team worked well together to ensure all ourtargets were met,” Commented John Pavey, Project Director, Clarkebond.

Developer: Watkins Jones
Engineers: Clarkebond
Architects: AWW