The boss of Bristol University has hailed the start of work on a new campus at Temple Meads, and said it will mean the citizens of Bristol will be able to get involved in research and enterprise going on there.
Prof Evelyn Welch said they are building ‘co-creation and collaboration’ into the plans for the Temple Quarter university campus, which is now being constructed right next to Temple Meads station. The university has signed the contract with construction firm Sir Robert McAlpine to finally start work on the campus, which will see more than 4,000 students based there from 2026.
But the vice-chancellor of the university said she was keen that the university’s new campus would open its doors to people from across Bristol, in a way they’ve never done before. “This is going to be a huge, long, beautiful building, open, airy, in a wonderful landscaped environment,” she said.
“Open because it‘s going to allow for collaboration and to allow for the people of Bristol to come in and really benefit from having the university at the heart of their city.
“The uni needs to expand for two reasons. The first reason, to be blunt, is we need the students to be able to afford to do what we do. The current funding system doesn’t allow us to survive in any other way. But perhaps as, if not more, importantly it also allows us to innovate.
"The new campus at Temple Quarter will be far less divided into disciplinary silos. It will allow somebody from enterprise, an entrepreneur to sit next to a researcher. It will allow a researcher to work with students, it will allow students to work with the citizens of Bristol, with that sense of co-creation and collaboration and partnership is being built in to the very fabric of what we’re doing at Temple Quarter,” she added.
The new campus will be based on the site of the old Royal Mail sorting office, that was left an empty and derelict eyesore for decades next to the platforms of Temple Meads station. Across the River Avon on ‘Temple Island’ the university is building several large purpose-built student accommodation blocks, with more university development on the opposite side of the Floating Harbour on Avon Street.
The development is a key part of kick-starting the billion-pound regeneration scheme of the whole of Temple Quarter, which will see a new secondary school and up to 10,000 new homes from Temple Meads to the St Philip’s Causeway. The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said the new campus would also open up Temple Meads station with a new eastern entrance, right into the heart of the campus.
“It’s the transformation of this part of Bristol, an area that has been busy - lots of businesses around, but has essentially been neglected over decades,” the mayor said. “On this site itself was the old postal sorting office that was the derelict building that welcomed people, or didn’t welcome them, as they came into Bristol, so this is going to be a real transformation but also a really visible sign of the city’s transformation and ambition.
“It will bring massive opportunities but also some challenges that we have to manage. We need a successful university - it’s one of the iconic organisations in the city, it’s a massive employer, lots of students come into the city, it’s a big boon, it’s huge for the city’s global reputation and attractiveness for inward investment, but all growth brings challenge. It will bring pressure on our housing, that’s why there’s purpose-built student accommodation included in the development as well,” he added.
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