Articles Grimshaw’s designs for YTL Arena Complex in Bristol receive planning approval

Grimshaw’s designs for YTL Arena Complex received approval at a meeting of Bristol Council’s planning committee this month, marking a significant step forward in delivering a new entertainment complex for the city and the South West. Due to the location and scale of the project, the decision will now be referred to the Secretary of State for final confirmation.

Grimshaw’s plans, delivered in partnership with Manica Architects, will see Bristol’s historic Brabazon Hangars – the birthplace of Concorde – transformed into a multi-purpose venue and experience destination. Housed in the site’s Central Hangar, YTL Arena’s 17,080 capacity will make it the third largest in UK, attracting major events and shows, and putting Bristol on the world stage. The arena will be flanked by an exhibition space in the east hangar, and a commercial and leisure venue in the west hangar, creating an exceptional cultural and entertainment complex.

In response to the positive decision, Keith Brewis, Grimshaw’s Managing Partner for International Operations, said: “Grimshaw was delighted to be invited to preserve much of the enduring memory of Bristol’s Brabazon Hangars, by helping YTL to repurpose them and create a new live entertainment venue, YTL Arena Complex. Built in 1948, the hangars present a dominant form over the former Filton Airfield, and on entry into their vast interiors, it is obvious why they are widely held as remarkable examples of post second world war long-span steelwork, interestingly designed by aviation engineers. As part of the major entertainment and exhibition venue, our early analysis showed that the central hangar was almost purpose made in scale terms for a 17,080 person, mixed mode arena.Grimshaw has genuinely tried to assume a role as “custodians” of the building’s structural fabric by trying to do everything to reveal its wonderful tactile and spatial qualities, so that its future visitors, as well as coming to see a favourite band or show, might leave knowing a little more of Bristol’s inventive, industrial history."

Set to open in early 2023, YTL Arena Complex will create more than 500 new jobs, attract in excess of 1.4 million visitors a year, and inject £1.5 billion into the local economy over 25 years.