Spike Island

Niall Phillips Architects, Bristol, 1998


Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

The Spike Island Centre, once a Brooke Bond factory 

Tim Rolt     Download Original

  • The Spike Island Centre, once a Brooke Bond factory    
  • The central exhibition hall viewed from the upper gallery level looking east. Suspended installation ‘Illumination’ by Andrzej Syska    
  • The main route through the studio     
  • Main entrance space to the     
  • Typical circulation space    
  • Monumental steel doors to painting studios    
  • Typical studios have natural light and clear walls. Painting by Adele Clifford    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Section    
  • Gallery screen detail    

Conversion of a Brooke Bond tea factory in Bristol into an art gallery and studio centre for young artists

The existing buidling was externally sound; the architect's main task was to divide the interior into flexible spaces, which would include studios, offices, education and lecture rooms, a café and exhibition space. About 40 per cent of the space is sublet to arts organisations.

Structural interventions are minimal and the new elements are deliberately expressed as new insertions within the existing fabric. They comprise blockwork and ply-faced studio partitions, glazed screens, the creation of a sculpture courtyard by removing a small area of roof and the insertion of a passenger lift and escape stairs.

The main hall is a grand space with a 8m-span glass-block barrel-vaulted roof, with fine art studios situated on the first floor gallery space. The upper floor of the two-storey wing has been converted into a studio 'village' laid out in a grid.


  • Begun: 1996
  • Completed: 1998
  • Floor area: 9,000m2
  • Sectors: Arts and culture, Education
  • Total cost: £1.5M
  • Funding: National Lottery
  • Address: Spike Island, 133 Cumberland Road, Bristol, BS1 6UX, United Kingdom

Professional Team


AJBL Sponsor

Thrislington Cubicles

Builders of the worlds best toilet cubicles, vanity units, lockers and panels at our factory in the United Kingdom since the 1960s

Find out more