Conversion of the Grade II Listed former police headquarters office building into a boutique backpackers hostel in Bristol’s Youth Quarter at Bridewell Island.

Ferguson Mann Architects were tasked with converting just over 1,000m2 of floor space into a hostel that could provide modestly priced overnight accommodation for the YMCA. Dating from 1928, the former police headquarters was on the Bristol City Council’s Buildings at Risk Register. Purpose-designed as a police headquarters, it had an interesting and characterful interior which we wanted to retain, including a remarkable Art Deco caged lift.

Bridewell Island and the surrounding neighbourhood is a vibrant area that has been a recent home to multi-skilled performing artists and also the site of various urban art projects.

The key design challenge was to provide the necessary hostel spaces, including a kitchen/dining area, reception, social spaces and 100-bed space, whilst retaining and enhancing the distinctive historic character

“The Ferguson Mann team understood what we were trying to achieve, and translated that into the requisite technical details to deliver a completed scheme we are delighted with.”
– Ben Silvey, YMCA

Following planning and listed building approvals in September 2014, an intensive fundraising phase commenced that included a successful HLF Community Fund bid with the go-ahead being made in 2016. The design has successfully integrated the youthful creativeness of the building’s context with the original character by restoring the main entrance and circulation spaces with bold, lively colours that enhance distinctive details. The caged lift has become the dramatic centrepiece, contributing to a memorable arrival. The project opened in January 2018.