Primary/Bristol: Sea Mills Primary School

Studio Weave, Sea Mills School, Bristol, 2012. Photo © Max McClure, Courtesy of Bristol City Council and Arnolfini.


The redevelopment of Sea Mills Primary School is part of Bristol City Council’s Primary/Bristol series of artist commissions for primary schools. As part of the development London based design practice Studio Weave were commissioned by project curators Arnolfini to develop an art work for the school working closely with pupils, teaching staff and Head.


Studio Weave is a young, energetic architecture practice working on a diverse set of projects across the country. Their work ranges from furniture and exhibition design, to shelters and buildings, to urban planning and landscapes. They have been involved in the development of several award winning schemes including most recently their Lullaby Factory, constructed from a network of listening pipes in a back courtyard of London's Great Ormond Street Hospital to create a secret factory of lullabies for children. They have won numerous awards for their work including (for Ecology of Colour) 3 RIBA Awards, including South East Building of the Year; a Civic Trust Award and Special Award for Community Impact and Engagement for their project ‘The Longest Bench’ and a Special Prize in European Copper in Architecture Awards for their project Freya, at Kielder Water.

For Sea Mills, Studio Weave designed a wooden decked structure surrounding a pond. The space was designed for outdoor teaching with two tiers of raised seating, which allow for class sessions. Sections of the decking extend out over the water to allow students to pond dip and collect wildlife. The work is situated in a quite area of the school and invites contemplation and reflection.

The colour scheme used is typical of the signature colours associated with Studio Weave’s practice. The herringbone patterns of the decking echoes the twill theme that was uncovered in Studio Weave’s site research into the history of Sea Mills and it’s associations with woven fabrics characterised by diagonal lines made in the mills along the water in Sea Mills.

To construct the design, Arnolfini worked with the British Trust Conservation volunteers who cleared out the old pond, preserving plants and wildlife that could become part of the new scheme. The artists worked with Bristol City Council Parks department to develop a year round planting scheme that added sculptural forms attract wildlife and contribute to the ecology of the pond.

Studio Weave’s project for Sea Mills extends the schools outdoor activities  and teaching opportunities, returning a previously derelict pond space into an attractive and usable space for children to play, learn and catch frogs.

This project has been made possible through funding from Bristol City Council as part of the Primary Capital Education Programme.

Studio Weave

Described as ‘one of Britain’s most promising young architects’ (Rowan Moore, The Guardian), Studio Weave is a London-based architectural practice set up in 2006. They balance a joyful, open-minded approach with technical precision to create a diverse body of work for public, private and commercial clients based in the UK and abroad.

Valuing idiosyncrasies, they aim to work with the particular strengths and specificities of a project to create something distinctive and of exceptional quality. They recognise that every project they work on is a transformation (as opposed to a static new reality), and enjoy working closely in realising them with everybody involved in and affected by the process – clients, users, funders, neighbours, contractors, consultants and collaborators.

Their work has been acknowledged by a number of awards including the Civic Trust Awards where their project The Longest Bench picked up the Special Award for Community Impact and Engagement, and more recently the 2013 RIBA Awards where the Ecology of Colour won the South East Building of the Year.


Arnolfini is one of Europe’s leading independent, contemporary arts organizations, and is the flagship art centre for the South West of England with 450,000 visitors annually. 2011 is the year of Arnolfini’s 50th anniversary. Since its foundation in 1961, Arnolfini has built an international reputation for commissioning and presenting innovative, experimental work in the visual arts, always with a strong emphasis upon audience engagement. Many thousands of artists and performers have been involved with Arnolfini during this time, often gaining their first opportunity before going on to long-term success, and this wealth of creativity has been appreciated and enjoyed by consistently large audiences. Much of this groundbreaking work would not have been made or shown in Bristol and the South West region without the Arnolfini. Previous major solo exhibitions at Arnolfini have included: Marcel Broodthaers, Bridget Riley, Richard Long and Liam Gillick, as well as more recently Cosima von Bonin in 2011

Sea Mills

Sea Mills Primary School serves the suburban north west of the city of Bristol. Led by Headteacher Miss Kirsteen Craig, the school’s motto is ‘Discovering Together’. They moved to their current site, a purpose built complex at Riverleaze, in the summer of 2012. The school expressed an interest in a public art commission that worked outside of the new build, bringing in possibilities for outdoor teaching and an interaction with green spaces.

  • Commissioner

    Bristol City Council

  • Produced by


  • Partners

    Primary Capital Programme (BCC, Skanska, LEP)

  • Supported by

    Bristol City Council