Bristol welcomes the PARCOUR team

Dr David Williams | Image: The PARCOUR Team, Bristol October 2016

Following the warm welcome by our Brazilian counterparts in São Paulo earlier this year it was essential that we made sure we returned the favour. This wouldn’t be easy due to the late autumnal temperatures, so we had to make sure the venue and restaurant choices more than made up for this. Benefiting from not having to travel intercontinentally this time I turned up to the meetings comparatively refreshed and ready to plan amongst other things our special session for the AESOP Conference in Lisbon next July.

We chose to hold the project meeting in the meeting rooms at the SS Great Britain due to its proximity to Bristol city centre and that it provided us with views of one of our UK case studies: Bristol Harbourside. This stunning backdrop which includes views of the iconic Clifton area and Bristol’s harbour demonstrated how the city had reclaimed successfully this area, which planners and developers in the 1970s wished to fill in and turn into an urban motorway.

SS Great Britain

Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the location of the PARCOUR Bristol Meeting. Photo by mattbuck., CC BY-SA 3.0, source: Wikimedia Commons.

Just as the redemption of the SS Great Britain, which has now been faithfully restored to its former glory, having formerly lain scuttled in Port Stanley harbour in the Falkland Islands for decades, Bristol’s floating harbour has transformed from a derelict former working dock to a vibrant and much loved part of the city. The floating harbour, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel who also designed of the SS Great Britain, has faced a long and protracted regeneration process, which with the completion of the Wapping Wharf development will finally been completed.

It was in the Wapping Wharf area, where we chose to eat lunch on both days of the event, where just as the finishing touches to the signs were going on the walls, a set of former shipping containers had recently been set up to provide small start-up businesses the opportunity for small-scale restaurants and shops to develop and hopefully thrive. These businesses and the new development benefit from the footfall of people walking between the city centre and Southville in stark contrast to the Harbourside where the design and layout mean that people rarely visit unless they live or work there.

At the end of the first day’s meeting, the more intrepid members of the group, led by Andrew took a guided tour through the docks and impressively walked up the hill to Clifton to see yet another Brunel creation, the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Following a swift ale in a sadly now gentrified pub it was down to the Olive Shed, back in Bristol Harbour for yet another excellent PARCOUR meal.

With the meeting concluding the following day several key milestones were agreed before our plans to meet in Lisbon next July where hopefully the PARCOUR group photo will be taken in slightly warmer conditions.