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Novers Hill Design Competition Shortlist Announced

Goram Homes and Bristol Housing Festival have announced a shortlist of five architect teams through to the next stage of the Novers Hill Design Competition.

The competition asked local firms with 20 employees or less for imaginative and ecologically innovative proposals for their brownfield site at Novers Hill in Knowle West.

The land on Belstone Walk used to be a primary school and sits adjacent to the Western Slopes, a well-loved wildlife corridor. More than 20 firms from across the West of England region responded with proposals for a residential scheme of around 50 new homes that would enhance the local area.

The shortlisted entries were anonymised and chosen by a panel of judges, which included representatives from the Knowle West community and Friends of the Western Slopes. The five shortlisted architects are:

1.  Barefoot Architects

“We are thrilled to be shortlisted for this extremely exciting competition! Addressing the loneliness epidemic, housing crisis, and ecological emergency were the drivers for our submission. It is very important to us that the project will be led by, and part of the existing community; and also nestled into its special landscape setting. We propose a range of new house types that enable multi-generational, mutually supportive, interdependent living – for anyone, and to enable Knowle to be forever home.”   

2.  Ferguson Mann Architects

“As a local practice Ferguson Mann Architects are delighted to have been shortlisted for what promises to be a transformative project for south Bristol. The team was led by our own passive house designer, the scheme is a positive response to the biodiversity and climate challenges facing the city. These are issues that we are passionate about and are integral to our design response: retaining the existing trees and landscape, enhancing the current biodiversity with ponds and roosts, promoting community food growing, minimising the development’s carbon footprint, and delivering much needed low energy homes.”

3.  gcp Chartered Architects

gcp Chartered Architects are thrilled to be shortlisted to work on this sensitive and ecologically significant site for Goram Homes and Bristol Housing Festival. As certified Passivhaus designers and energy consultants, we prioritise sustainability in all our projects, including retrofitting hundreds of homes in Bristol and developing new housing across the South-West. We plan to design affordable, sustainable housing for Novers Hill with respect and care, using innovative design techniques to create homes that marry with their surroundings and meet local needs. We are eager to work on this project and contribute to the community’s enhancement.” 

4.  Mitchell Eley Gould Architects with Studio Knight Stokoe

“Novers Hill offers opportunity to grow a place founded on the core principles of neighbourhood, biodiversity enhancement, and community stewardship; a place where residents say, ‘I’m the steward of this home, ready for the next lucky owner.’ Our approach to ‘gentle density’ knits together homes, landscapes, and public spaces to create a symbiotic relationship between the land and built form. Engagement that enables co-design, ownership, and local voices to be heard is critical. Mitchell Eley Gould and Studio Knight Stokoe are delighted to have the chance to work with the local community and Goram Homes to create something rather special and very much, of the slopes.”

5.  RHaR Architects

“RHaR is delighted to be shortlisted and we look forward to demonstrating in more detail our ideas that prioritise placemaking at the heart of what we do. We have taken advantage of the site’s natural change in level to create a community-focused design that places emphasis on people and wildlife. RHaR with The Richards Partnership and Ecology Solutions believe Novers Hill presents an opportunity to connect South Bristol’s green infrastructure, creating a continuous natural spine that unite the community at the top of the Western Slopes.”

The shortlisted group will now enter the second stage of the competition, which will include further design workshops and community engagement. The aim is to select a winner at the end of the summer.

Cllr Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Homes, said

“Congratulations to all five shortlisted teams. The entries prove that good development can tackle our housing challenges and respect nearby ecology too. This brownfield site next to the Western Slopes has the potential to be a thriving new neighbourhood in wildlife rich surroundings. The development of new and affordable homes could be a real asset to the Knowle West community, and I look forward to the next stage of the competition.”

Julia Victor, founder of Friends of the Western Slopes (Novers Hill)
“It was a pleasure to be part of the competition panel and I was really pleased to see such thoughtful ideas. The chosen designs make best use of a brownfield site for the community, whilst acknowledging the need to make minimal impact on the nature conservation area next door”.

Christiana Makariou, Senior Development Manager from Goram Homes said:
“All five designs show the potential for a really special and considered development. From sustainable homes to community food growing to multigenerational living, each one demonstrates how their design could benefit the community. The shortlisted teams also showed plans that could respect the ecology of the Western Slopes, which is incredibly important here. I can’t wait to see the designs progress.