Birstol Civil Justice Centre

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Project Value:

£25 million




Key Points

BREEAM: Excellent


9 Civil Courts

6 District Judges’ Hearing Rooms


Professional delivery, smooth running

The Bristol Civil Justice Centre (BCJC) provides a single location for all civil and family law work in the city and the region. These County Court functions were previously housed in unsuitable premises and the BCJC was needed to assist the Court Service in the professional delivery smooth running of its business in Bristol.


Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) had assessed its anticipated future workload in the relevant areas of civil law work over a 25 year period and required a building containing 9 Civil Courts of varying size and complexity, and 6 District Judges’ Hearing Rooms, in which the majority of the court business is undertaken.

Comprehensible to irregular users

The site chosen for the building lies within the Redcliffe conservation area close to the floating harbour and the listed church of St Thomas the Martyr. Extensive consultation with local stakeholders such as Redcliffe Futures was undertaken to ensure the new building met the emerging masterplan aspirations for this part of Bristol. As a consequence, a new public piazza was proposed to provide appropriate townscape settings for BCJC and the church.

The internal planning of the building is ordered by principles of relationship that stem from the comprehensive HMCTS brief and a desire to make the building comprehensible to irregular users. This is allied with strong sustainability objectives to bring natural light and ventilation into all the spaces, in particular the Courtrooms which are internal. The building is set out by the diagram of Judiciary rooms with secure circulation, courtrooms, atrium and circulation space, and a further wing of common accommodation at the northern boundary. The atrium contains lifts, stairs and other common facilities with all parts of the building visible at the entrance to aid clarity and orientation. The working rooms follow regular plan forms, and the atrium takes a triangular shape providing circulation and interesting waiting areas that subdivide naturally into more discrete areas. This plan form is readily adaptable for the other levels of accommodation.

Strong internal organisation

At ground level the double height entrance is approached from Redcliff Street and the Piazza, with security and direct access to the general and Bailiffs’ offices. Other support facilities are provided together with the car park entrance.

The strong internal organisation of the building has a direct expression in the exterior form and elevational treatment, developed to comply with the Town Planning principles established for the site. A limited palette of high quality materials such as natural stone, glazing and metalwork were carefully selected to create an appropriate civic character for this important public building.

The Bristol Civil Justice Centre was opened in 2010, with the building being delivered by Scottish Widows Investment Partnership under the Private Developer Scheme procurement route.