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28


RESTAURANTS & BARS PROJECT REPORT


Space in Cargo was limited and Alec French had to plan carefully to foster an intimate atmosphere within each eatery © Jon Craig


while a modest staircase leads to the upper, terraced deck.


PROJECT SUPPLIERS


Dry lining to the soffits: Knauf Blockwork (rear sidewalls): Masterblock


External landscaping: Forest of Dean Stone & Gillespies Brickwork: Ibstock Corten steel: E C L Contracts Retail doors to the rear of the units: Ascot Doors


Flooring/insulation: Kingspan Thermafloor TF70 Glazing: Alucraft


Bristol is not new to the idea of using steel containers to create spaces – the city’s Engine Shed project, designed by Childs+Sulzmann Architects, combined 20 containers to provides workspace for local businesses near Temple Meads in 2015. Cargo’s developer Umberslade however claims it is the first ‘retail yard’ made from shipping containers in the city. The idea for it was sparked across the pond in New York’s meat packing district, where a holi- daying Stuart Hatton was inspired by eateries operating from fishing containers. He comments: “We already had a good mix of operators in the main retail units, but I thought, how can we improve on that?” The area at the bottom of Gaol Ferry Steps was vacant, so there was enough space to accommodate a similar container- made structure. “That piece of land was completely flat, so it seemed the obvious thing to do was to animate it so we squeezed 18 containers onto it, which I divided into nine retailers.”


Initially the team considered stacking the containers vertically as their main structural holding points were in the corners, but Stuart wanted to create a first-floor terrace, and he says “as soon as you offset them, you have to create additional structural


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elements to put the balance back.” Naturally, space was limited and had to be carefully balanced in order to foster an intimate atmosphere within each eatery. Mark Osborne admitted such challenges can be a blessing in disguise for architects. “It stops you from being formulaic,” he argued, adding, “The key to us was to get the proportions right – make them too wide and they can become desert-like and uncomfortable.” He concluded: “The successful thing with this masterplan was that it’s very compact and manages to create that buzz and intensity.” Alec French had to tweak the drafts for Cargo on multiple occasions, with tenants wanting to borrow valuable inches of space. “It’s quite easy to do this," assured Mark, “It’s just a matter of planning amendments, of which there were quite a few,” he laughed. The plans were then sent to Lions Construction, the containers supplier who delivered the parts and weld the structure together on site. These ‘boxy’ types of catering develop- ments have had their critics, who claim they are too space-constrained to be pleasant for diners, but Mark counters: “You can join a few together, or cut them to the desired size – it’s all very flexible.” Hatton adds, “It’s like you’re in someone’s dining room. Take Lovett Pies – it’s 8 ft wide and 20 ft long, a single container, but it's brilliant, so beauti- fully designed, because they've thought about how to use each square inch of space. [The containers] create a very intimate atmosphere, and creative people have seized on that to create something very special.” As with the main units in Gaol Ferry


Steps, the developers have put the basics in place to help the tenants moving in – ply- lined the containers, installed insulation, drainage and ductwork in addition to the striking glazed shopfronts. Following on Cargo’s success, Umberslade is already stacking more containers – 38, to be precise – that will accommodate 17 businesses at the back of M Shed, the existing museum at the site. With Gaol Ferry Steps and Cargo fully let and running, Phase 2 of Wapping Wharf’s regeneration is set to commence this year. This will see a number of timber- clad residential dwellings erected to the east of the site, along with retail units, a new street and the renovation of the Grade II listed remnants of the prison. More food retailers may also be invited to the area, providing plenty more varied and tempting offerings for Bristolian foodies along the city’s harbourside. 


ADF APRIL 2017


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