Bristol Civil Justice Centre and Square



International renowned artist Tania Kovats was selected at an early stage to work in collaboration with the project Landscape architects, Gillespies, to develop concept designs as an integral part of the piazza design for the Civil Justice Centre and Square.


Through close collaboration concept designs were developed for the new public piazza, which was realised in 2010. The proposal aimed to increase the interest of this new and highly significant public space in the neglected Redcliffe area of the city. The piazza has a variety of changes of levels within it. This has been dramatically accommodated within the landscape scheme by proposing a single slab as a slope, across the volume of the square, leading up to the Civil Justice Courts. 

Tania Kovats proposed that this should be transformed into a geological feature. Her interest as a sculptor is landscape, whether that landscape is urban or rural is not important. Architecture still sits on the earth and this project points to that. She references the geological expression with Bristol and the nature of this slab by utilizing all the vertical cuts into this volume as a cut through strata. By pouring these elements in layers of differently treated concrete, strata are built up that run through the square, exposing the vertical faces of walls and steps where there is a change of level, throughout the space. The top surface of the square which was laid with stone becomes the crust over the geological slab. There are also significant sculptural block elements, providing a focus for the architectural and sculptural language of form that rolls out across the scheme and beyond. 

Tania Kovat’s was selected to work with the design team and respond to the new public space because her practice deals with the experience and understanding of landscape. Her recent work has focussed on drawing and mapping landscapes and she has created bodies of work on imaginary and existing islands including a major new commission for the Natural History Museum in London entitled ‘Tree’.  The work, which is 17-metre long, is a wafer thin section of an entire length of a two hundred year old oak tree. A 4mm thick slice was taken through the roots, trunk and branches and inlaid into the ceiling of the museum. The artwork had its starting point in Darwin’s tree-like drawing in one of his notebooks where he first mapped out his thoughts on evolution. 

Tania Kovats 

Tania Kovats’ recent solo exhibitions include TREE, Natural History Museum, London (2009); Catch This, Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2008), Museum of the White Horse, a nationally touring horsebox museum, and Small Finds, Peer, London (2007). Recent group shows include Edge of the World, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh (2010), Earthscapes, Sherbourne House Arts (2010), A Duck For Mr. Darwin, BALTIC, Gateshead (2009), and You’ll Never Know. Drawing and Random Interference, Hayward Gallery, London (2006). 

Tania Kovats talks about her work ‘Holm’ as part of The Wonders of Weston project in Weston Super Mare. 


Tania Wonders of Weston from Claire Doherty on Vimeo.