A World Class Centre for Mathematics – the University of Bristol’s Fry Building

The Fry Building is one of many historic buildings located within the University of Bristol’s main academic precinct on the northern side of Bristol city centre. It occupies a key steeply-sloping site, directly north of the landmark Grade II* listed Wills Memorial Building and immediately to the south of Senate House, the University’s heart.  The Fry Building itself is actually a complex series of buildings and structures, of which three are individually Grade II listed. Moreover, it is a significant historic element within the University, being the founding 19th century University College of 1879-80 by architect Charles Hansom.  The site lies within one designated conservation area and adjoining another.

As part of a campus-wide review, the University of Bristol identified an opportunity to restore and upgrade the tired, badly altered and partly unusable Fry Building into a new world class home for its School of Mathematics, while contributing to the wider University Precinct.  Heritage Places was commissioned to prepare a statement of significance and a heritage statement for planning purposes.  We also prepared a detailed fabric audit of the complex, establishing the contribution to significance made by elements and features in every space.  Working closely with Wilkinson Eyre Architects, that understanding was used to plan interventions, such as localised demolition or insertions.  The success of this approach is demonstrated in the recognition by English Heritage (now Historic England) and the City’s Conservation Officer in supporting the scheme that Wilkinson Eyre’s bold and imaginative design would cumulatively enhance rather than harm the significance of the building and its setting.

Client: University of Bristol

Architect: Wilkinson Eyre

Other team members: Capita Symonds (project manager); Buro Happold (engineers); Gleeds (cost consultant); CSJ Planning (planning consultant)