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Blog: Champion Bristol with a Warm Welcome by Sarah-Jane Osborne, Claremont Group Interiors3rd February 2013

Sarah-Jane Osborne, director, Claremont Group Interiors
The Mayor called on the professional community to really champion Bristol and create a warm welcome when visitors arrive in our city, earlier this week. He spoke about the importance of creating a strong sense of place and ensuring that Bristol competes on a UK, if not European and global stage.

As someone who is continually asked to create environments and a sense of place, albeit it in office interiors, it struck me as an interesting challenge for Bristol. There is no disputing that Bristol has a strong, distinct identify, the question is whether we are telling that story sufficiently well to others, and perhaps even to ourselves.

Mayor George Ferguson highlighted the strengths of other cities in creating a lasting first impression – Sheffield in particular, where arrival at the station shows the city’s modern incarnation and leads visitors onto a public piazza before leading them to the gold route, which connects key developments in the city.

An unexpected city to use as a comparison you might say, but it certainly highlights the power of the first impression. In telling that story Mayor George is promoting Sheffield. We certainly keep that ethos close to mind when creating office interiors for our clients. Projecting the right image, telling a story and supporting how people use space is what my role is all about and that’s where Bristol still has work to do.

In particular the need for more cohesion in the city centre is clear, knitting Cabot’s Circus, Temple Meads, the city centre and Harbourside together will improve the Bristol experience and must be facilitated, in party, by better integrated public transport systems, cycle paths and way finding to help those travelling round the city on foot. The event provided a consensus – better connectivity will create a better experience, turning a somewhat disjointed city into a whole.

But one of the other ways to create a sense of place is with the buildings and people themselves. As much as 1million sq ft of Bristol’s unoccupied office space is thought to be unfit for purpose. Converting these properties into residential space would not only provide much-needed housing but breathe new life into those areas and kick-start wider development activity too.

For some a sense of place is a feeling, for others it is geographic characteristics. For me it is both of those things, people, buildings and experiences are at the heart of any city. That’s what creates a sense of place. Mayor George Ferguson’s request for Bristol champions is still ringing in my ears and I’m most definitely on board. The challenge now is in ensuring the funding and momentum are there to make this passionate appeal a Bristolian reality.

To attend our event Connecting People Place and Technology on 26 February click here:
For a copy of our Office Guide to Bristol, which outlines occupier trends, key office building locations and the city’s burgeoning districts and sectors, click here:


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