08 Sep 2016

Democracy and Engagement

Council buildings taking part in Bristol Doors Open Day

Bristol City Council is inviting members of the public to explore City Hall and other buildings this weekend (11 September) as part of Bristol Doors Open Day.

Visitors will be invited to wander and investigate the variety of rooms, parlours and chambers that make up many of the Council’s buildings, including for the first time in two years, City Hall. There will be opportunities to take in the ornate Lord Mayor’s Parlour, visit the building’s mammoth Conference Hall and take a step into the Council Chamber, the centre of democracy in Bristol.

Brides and grooms to be will be able to roam around the spaces, planning their big day with the Council’s events staff and specialist caterers Parsnip Mash on hand to answer their questions.

For those with an eye for a mural there’s plenty to see with both ceilings of the Conference Hall and Council Chamber being adorned with paintings by world famous artists. The Hall ceiling was painted by Sir Walter Thomas Monnington and is themed on molecular and atomic fusion. The Chamber ceiling was designed and painted by John Armstrong and depicts the city’s maritime and industrial heritage.

Local catering company, Pegasus Catering, will have a healthy food café open outside the Council Chamber with a selection of snacks and drinks available. 

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Many people I speak to tell me they've never set foot in City Hall and it’s never occurred to them that they would be allowed to do so. Taking part in this year’s Bristol Doors Open Day is our chance to remind people that it is an open, public building. Whilst office space makes up four floors of City Hall the first floor is public space and should be enjoyed by the people of Bristol. 

“City Hall stands at the centre of Bristol’s democracy. I encourage people to visit the building, to sit on the benches and imagine a debate in full flow. I want to see young people wander the corridors and picture themselves representing their community.  We're keen to make City Hall more accessible and open to all and are looking at how this can be achieved."

Other Council managed buildings throwing their doors open to the public are:
Filwood Green Business Park
The Georgian House Museum
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
The Edwardian Cloakroom
St Nicholas Market
Red Lodge Museum
Bristol Record Office
M Shed
Kings Weston Roman Villa
Blaise Castle House Museum

Lord Mayor, Councillor Jeff Lovell, said: “City Hall has remained the main symbol of democracy in Bristol since it first opened its doors over 60 years ago. Other than being a wonderful example of classic English architecture, it is also a building that has history woven through its fabric. Just one glance at the walls of the Conference Hall with the engraved names of the city’s Mayors and Lord Mayors reminds you of the building’s importance. I encourage everyone to take the time during Bristol Open Doors Day and throughout the year to pay a visit and immerse themselves in this history.”

Designed by renowned architect Vincent Harris OBE, building work began with the laying of the foundation stone in 1938. Following the outbreak of the Second World War construction was delayed until the economic climate had improved and was finally completed in 1953. The building was officially opened in 1956 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.

City Hall reopened in June 2016 following an 18 month refurbishment to significantly reduce its operation costs and increase office capacity. Working in partnership with Historic England, the Grade II* listed building’s office space was transformed, quadrupling the number of people who can work at City Hall, going from 500 to 2000 workers.

During these refurbishment works the development’s eco credentials and the building’s lasting energy efficiency were high on the priority list. Over 90% of the waste generated during the refurbishment was recycled or reused and the installation of energy efficient technology such as LED lighting reduced City Hall’s energy consumption by 80%, saving the equivalent of 450 tonnes of CO2 per year. 

Bristol Doors Open Day will see over 80 venues across Bristol welcome in members of the public for the weekend to explore their buildings. The event, organised by the Architecture centre and supported by volunteers and sponsors, is part of the Heritage Open Days, a national celebration of history, architecture and culture. Visit www.bristoldoorsopenday.org.uk to find out which venues are taking part and how you can get involved.