City Ideas Studio

Exploring what makes a sustainable city – a year-long series of themed exhibitions and residencies.


To celebrate Bristol’s year as European Green Capital 2015 the Architecture Centre gallery was transformed into a ‘City Ideas Studio’.

The Centre became a year-long ideas and innovation hub, bringing people from all parts of the city together to explore how to make Bristol a sustainable city.  Collaborating with dozens of partners from across the city, we co-curated a programme focusing on Bristol Green Capital’s five themes –  Nature, Transport, Resources, Food and Energy.

Each theme was presented through talks, debates, family activities, exhibitions and studio residencies. Showcasing national and international projects alongside the work of local innovators, special ‘pop-up’ guests, and staff and students at UWE Bristol, the Studio was testament to the Architecture Centre’s belief in collaborative work and multi-disciplinary inclusion.

Exhibition Series:

Food: 1 May – 5 July 2015

With a focus on food in the city, the City Ideas Studio looked at how we design, manage and use our buildings and urban spaces, and how food production can contribute to healthier, happier and greener cities.

Nature: 15 July – 13 September 2015

How can we make space for a nature-rich landscape in the city?
World-renowned landscape architect Andrew Grant presented his work alongside that of Avon Wildlife Trust, whose My Wild City mapping project works with communities with the aim of transforming gardens and open spaces into a Bristol-wide nature reserve.

Resources: 23 September – 15 November 2015

How can we make more of the things we have?
The exhibition explored not only how best to use finite resources such as building materials, land and money, but also how cities should harness the powerful resource of human inventiveness and action.

Energy: 25 November – 24 January 2016

How can we provide better, cleaner energy and use less of it?
Bristol’s ambition is to become the UK’s first city for sustainable energy, leading the way towards smart energy efficiency, affordable warmth and 100% renewables, with a thriving low carbon sector delivering solutions for the city and across the world.

Transport: 3 February – 10 April 2016

How can we improve public transport, active travel and make better use of our streets? One of Bristol Green Capital’s ambitions is for Bristol to become a world leading city in active travel, where 4 out of 5 journeys under five miles are made by foot, bike and public transport.

For further information of the year-long programme visit the blog:

City Ideas Studio blog

Associated family activity:

Accompanying the City Ideas Studio exhibitions and events programme the Architecture Centre also programmed a full year of family activity, including:

  • My Green City outreach workshops
  • Shoe boxes and shipping containers! Make your own snug home
  • Snug Homes: Family Activity
  • My Wild City: Meet a wildlife expert
  • Your Green Future event at University of the West of England

The City Ideas Studio is part-funded by a Bristol 2015 Strategic Grant and is sponsored by Alec French ArchitectsAmalgamBarton WillmoreBDPBuroHappold EngineeringRISE StructuresSolarsense and West of England Initiative.

The City Ideas Studio touchscreen is supported by AutodeskFeilden Clegg Bradley StudiosMax Fordham and Bristol City Council Design Group.

Key collaborators included leading urban design and architectural thinker CJ Lim who discussed how we can we produce and eat more healthy food in the city. Joining him in our series discussion were organisations such as the Bristol Food NetworkGrow Bristol, Kitchen on Prescription and FareShare South West, each bringing insight from their own urban initiatives and visions for a food-friendly future.

We were also pleased to be working once again with staff and students from the UWE Department of Architecture and the Built Environment. Their installation offered a thought-provoking response to the exhibition theme, exploring ideas of place and issues including landownership, ethics, access and ideas of belonging and citizenship.

Working with our studio partner the West of England Initiative, the exhibition used then recently published Good Transport Plan for Bristol as a framework for exploring key issues, with projects include those by SustransPlaying OutLet’s Walk BedminsterNorth Bristol SusCom and UWE.

Working with our studio partner Solarsense, with projects by Bristol City CouncilCentre for Sustainable EnergyThe Green RegisterMax Fordham, and UWE.