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Historical Background

Originally a paint and varnish factory as a part of Phoenix Wharf in 19th century, Bristol Paintworks, currently, represent the only large-scale live-work scheme in the UK (Figures 1 to 3). Established by Bristol Paintmakers Colthurst & Harding, it was recognized as the first paint production factory in the area, which subsequently became abandoned due to reduction in manufacturing and lack of investment[1]. Eventually, the site became derelict in 2003 with some of the industrial buildings and structures left intact.

Figure 1: Colthurst & Harding paint factory in 1939[2]                       Figure 2: Factory poster 1[3]      Figure 3: Factory poster 2[4]
Creative Quarter

The urban regeneration project aimed to establish an interactive, creative-minded community in a vibrant mixed-use development, including residential quarters, leisure centres, commercial and retail units (video below[5]).

“Considerable effort went into the intimacy of the street scene, the public areas and hub spaces. This is in deliberate contrast to insular ‘lifestyle’ residential accommodation and soulless anonymous business parks, where people are close together but almost intentionally cut off and separated”.

An award-winning scheme, the Paintworks accommodate numerous live-work apartments, gallery and event spaces, cafes, shops and office buildings (Figures 4 to 8). Currently, such organizations as Martin Parr Foundation[6], RIBA South West[7] and the Royal Photographic Society (RPS)[8] represent the backbone of creative industry in the development.

Figure 4: the Paintworks’ residential map[9]
Figure 5: 2 bed houses[10]     Figure 6: 4 bed houses[11]      Figure 7: Martin Parr Foundation[12]       Figure 8: the RPS[13]
The local Event Space[14] hosts numerous art, photography and sculpture exhibitions, business events (with BBC, Sunday Times and Google among the clients), weddings and birthday anniversaries (Figures 9 to 11). Moreover, the Paintworks utilize some live-work dwellings for AirBnb accommodation. Additionally, the external public spaces are enhanced with green areas and small parks.

Figure 9: Product launch conference[15]                 Figure 10: Art exhibition[16]                              Figure 11: Wedding party[17]
Pleasing Community

A thriving creative quarter has generally received a positive feedback from its inhabitants:

“This is like a housing development you would find in the Netherlands, structured around maximizing opportunities for people to interact with one another” – Laura and Harry, residents.
“There are benches all down the streets and I’ve seen kids playing and a young family sat out there, so there’s the opportunity to meet people that way” – Michael, architect.
“There’s quite a strong community here already; the Facebook group and the fact that people are very friendly” – Rachel, florist.
Future Model

The vibrant character in terms of colours and natural material uses as well as successful treatment of car parking and amenity spaces allows the pedestrianized Paintworks to achieve the highest levels of community interaction. The Paintworks is based on principles of inclusion, collaboration and mutual respect, generating a sense of an open-gated close-knit community. Although it is primarily envisaged for creative industries, the scheme also offers opportunities for digital businesses to prosper.


[Featured image] Design Delivery Unit (2020) Paintworks wins Insider South West Residential Development of the Year. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[1]Historic England (2018) The Paintworks, Bristol. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[2]Britain from Above (2014) [Image] Colthurst and Harding Paint Works at Phoenix Wharf, Bristol, 1939. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[3]Paintworks (2020a) [Image] Paintworks, from the beginning. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[4]Paintworks (2020b) [Image] Paintworks, from the beginning. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[5]CrestNicholsonPLC (2016) [Video] Paint Works in Bristol. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[6]Martin Parr Foundation (2020) Paintworks Bristol BS4. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[7]RIBA (2020) RIBA South West/Wessex. Available at: (Accessed: 21 may 2020).

[8]The Royal Photographic Society (2020) About the RPS. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[9]Crest Nicholson (2020) [Image] Paintworks. Available at: (Accessed: 21 may 2020).

[10]Paintworks (2020c) [Image] Residential and Live/Work. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[11]Paintworks (2020d) [Image] Residential and Live/Work. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[12]Art Fund (2020) [Image] Martin Parr Foundation. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[13]Interaction (2020) [Image] The Royal Photographic Society. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[14]Paintworks Events (2020a) Bristol’s most versatile event, conference and wedding venue. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[15]Paintworks Events (2020b) [Image] Business Events. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[16]Paintworks Events (2020c) [Image] Weddings & Parties. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

[17]Paintworks Events (2020d) [Image] Exhibitions, Filming and Photoshoots. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

Stride Treglown (2020) Paintworks Phase III. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2020).

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509


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