Light and Air, Bristol, UK, 2013
We were invited to submit a concept design for the renovation of the façade of Queen’s Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI), a major landmark in the city of Bristol.
The renovation of the façade bears specific constraints such as the limited additional load capacity of the existing structure, the technical complexity of improving the condition of the façade, and the importance of minimal disturbance to the hospital’s operation. Taking these as opportunities rather than obstacles, and leveraging the latest construction technologies, we proposed a phased, composite solution—an innovative multi-layered system of light and air.
Rather than a thick layer of “make up” we proposed a sustaining translucent layer, a“cocoon” nurturing a transformation; a new form of abstraction conversing with the old one, recovering its legacy without being over-burdened by it. Behind this layer, the decaying old façade is allowed to gradually and gracefully complete its cycle without posing a public hazard or being exposed to further stress while at the same time surgically performed renovations can take place. This layer consists of lightweight cylindrical ETFE pillows held by a steel structure and both performs as a weather barrier for the existing façade of the hospital and also provides a new image for the hospital.