Straw Bale Building

Knowle West Media Centre is a sustainable straw bale construction in South Bristol, UK, built using eco friendly materials and techniques.

You may remember our first base – the old William Budd Health Centre on Leinster Avenue.  In 2007, nine years after now-Director Carolyn Hassan came to Knowle West for the first photography project, the Health Centre wasn’t in a good state. The roof regularly leaked and it was pretty cramped!

We needed more space and a venue to match the quality media work being produced. From the outset, we knew it was vital to involve the community in the planning and design of the new building. So, we invited local young people to join the Archimedia Project – to gather ideas, consult with residents, devise a project brief, recruit the architects and provide progress reports to funders and other stake-holders.

White Design Associates Ltd were chosen as the architects and young people continued to work alongside the design and construction teams. The new straw bale building opened in April 2008, when the keys were presented by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling.

You can find out more about the environmental features of Knowle West Media Centre or visit us on one of our tours. We hope we’ve met the young people’s aspirations – and our own! – for a modern, creative and climate-friendly facility for the whole community to enjoy.


The Architect’s Perspective:

“Knowle West Media Centre’s old home – a 1950s modular concrete clad former doctors’ surgery – could not have been more different from its new replacement – a straw clad, light-filled, double-height space with elegant, protruding timber beams. But like so much of the story behind this extraordinary project, there is a hidden layer of connection with the present. Once the old building was demolished, all the materials were carefully recorded and re-used wherever practical in the construction of the new building. The old foundations and earth were re-used in the site preparation while specific items such as radiators were recycled.

A strong, sustainability agenda, endorsed enthusiastically by client and architect, drove the design and construction of the new media centre. This unique approach involved a core group of local young people.”

Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
+44 (0) 117 903 0444

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