Projects

Filwood Green Business Park

Filwood Green Business Park, Bristol, 2015. Photo © Max McClure, Courtesy of KWMC.

Synopsis

Filwood Green Business Park opened in May 2015. As part of the development, Bristol City Council commissioned Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) to develop a public art programme for the site funded as part of the overall development budget. Two commissions were developed: a large furniture-making programme and a series of glazing and wall paintings by KWMC resident artist Dane Watkins.

Description

Responding to a need for furniture across interior and exterior of Filwood Green Business Park, KWMC was commissioned to produce high-quality office furniture to kit out the site. Over a six-month period, a team of artists and designers, including Hot Soup House and 00:/, worked with trainees, volunteers and Knowle West residents to design, make and install nearly 500 pieces of wooden furniture.

The activity took place at the Eagle House Pop Up Furniture Factory: a digital manufacturing space, run by KWMC with support from local charity re:work, and based in an empty former youth centre in Knowle West.  The furniture was produced using digital manufacturing tools, including CNC routers and laser cutters, and recycled materials wherever possible.

Furniture included meeting tables, work desks, armchairs, and laptop bars, which can be adjusted and used as a standing workspace. Some pieces of furniture were made from scratch using ‘open source’ designs, which were shared via the Open Desk platform. Others were ‘upcycled’ from the unused chipboard desks brought out of Council storage and which were earmarked for reuse in the Business Park. When making the furniture, KWMC strove to balance the need for functionality and low production costs with the delivery of high quality design solutions, which could combine the new with the repurposed.

KWMC also produced external furniture for Filwood Green Business Park, including wooden planters containing herbs and edible plants and furniture that incorporated edible planting. These pieces continue to be maintained by a local gardener.

As well as providing  important elements of furniture for the new Business Park, KWMC’s activities in the Eagle House Pop Up provided training for over 40 people. The latest Quality of Life survey by Bristol City Council (2013) reported that satisfaction with jobs is very low in the Filwood ward, at just 12%.  KWMC and its Eagle House Pop Up actively sought to deal with such issues, hiring two local residents and offering many volunteering opportunities. During the six months of the Eagle House Pop Up, KWMC offered a programme of workshops where people could learn about digital manufacturing techniques and try out the CNC router and laser cutter.

KWMC’s lease of the Eagle House building ended in May 2015 and they moved their making activity into one of the business units at Filwood Green Business Park, becoming the first tenant of the Business Park and establishing KWMC: The Factory, a new digital manufacturing business enterprise and training space.

In addition to the making of furniture for the Business Park, artist Dane Watkins developed a series of manifestation graphics, which were applied to glazing in meeting rooms, and a large wall mural in the centre hub space.  These works add interest to communal areas and link together the various spaces, as they reference green and digital technologies alongside more analogue modes of production in their underlying thematic.

KWMC

Knowle West Media Centre is a media arts charity based in south Bristol that aims to develop and support cultural, social and economic regeneration. Over the past 20 years KWMC has enabled individuals and communities to engage with, and benefit from, digital technologies and the arts, getting the most out of the developing nexus between technology and culture.

KWMC provides opportunities for young people to experiment with digital media, a programme of environmental projects encouraging sustainable living, a digital manufacturing space, and a diverse arts programme of artist residencies, exhibitions and workshops with local, national and international artists. The centre, complete with high-quality media facilities, studio space and training resources, is a sustainable strawbale construction.

Filwood Green Business Park

Designed by architect Stride Treglown Filwood Green Business Park is a pioneering development for Bristol City Council and the Homes and Communities Agency, providing a BREEAM Outstanding office and workshop space in Knowle West, Bristol aimed towards B1/B2 small and medium sized businesses with an environmental ethos.

The building provides workshop, studio and office space available to let in a variety of sizes, and a large open plan WorkHub which facilities interaction. With a range of desk spaces and facilities, Filwood Green Business Park is designed to deliver all the key ingredients for small businesses to flourish.

The opening of Filwood Green Business Park coincided with Bristol becoming the UK’s first ever European Green capital. The building is highly efficient both in construction and day to day operation, specifically designed to achieve a 40 per cent CO2 reduction, saving an estimated 46 tonnes of CO2 annually (equivalent to 276 double decker buses). The Business Park’s environmental ethos is incorporated throughout the building with electric vehicle charging points, a sedum green roof, and extensive photovoltaic panels. This is a building that invests in Bristol’s future and forms a key part of the regeneration, and sustainable development of South Bristol.


  • Commissioner

    Bristol City Council

  • Produced by

    Knowle West Media Centre

  • Partners

    Midas Construction (contractor)

  • Supported by

    Bristol City Council