Visualisation of expanded Watershed building

Pre App Image Proposed: Image courtesy of childs+sulzmann architects

BIGGER SHED Expanding Watershed:

Continuing Watershed’s journey of leadership and stewardship and to meet the increasing demand for what we offer, we are really pleased to be sharing our ambitious vision for physical expansion that will deliver improved environmental sustainability and financial security for years to come.

“Watershed feels like a home for all”  Sammy Payne, Open Bionics, Pervasive Media Studio resident

Created in 1982 as Britain's first Media Centre, over the past twenty years Watershed has continually grown, building a reputation for inclusive talent development, diverse cultural cinema, and innovation:

 In that 20 years…

  • Cinema audience has grown from 85,000 to 170,000
  • The range of films we show has diversified from 33 producing countries to 52
  • Artists we work with each year have expanded from 50 to over 150
  • Staffing has grown to 101 Full Time Equivalent

This growth has been enabled by embracing digital technologies, the building of Cinema Three, and the opening of the Pervasive Media Studio.

Continuing Watershed’s journey of leadership and stewardship and to meet the increasing demand for what we offer, we are really pleased to be sharing our ambitious vision for physical expansion that will deliver improved environmental sustainability and financial security for years to come.

“Watershed is central to so much of the work that I do as a young creative - a reimagining of the building would give it space to continue to engage and change the lives of others - just as it has done with mine”. Euella Jackson, Rife Magazine Alumni

This week Watershed has submitted a Pre App to Bristol City Council - which is a way to ask the Council for formal advice before we make a full planning application.

"Watershed’s expansion is a project driven by the why rather than what we will do. It is about fulfilling increasing demand from people who want to visit, work and co-locate with us. It is about celebrating the new ideas that are developed under our roof and giving them increased visibility in the heart of the city. It is about ensuring our building is the most welcoming and inclusive space it can be. A bigger shed is a bigger home for creativity and will be a powerful celebration of Bristol’s flourishing cluster." Clare Reddington, Creative Director and CEO, Watershed

With the submission of the Pre App we begin a period of discussion and exploration with stakeholders, public, artists, industry, neighbours and partners. This will test our thinking and help us to further develop our plans. We expect this period of exploration to run until March 2019 and following a period of evaluation we will publish the findings from these discussions and formulate a timetable for progression of our ambitions.

The building will increase from 4,400 sqm to 6,360 sqm with new work space for 100+ creatives in the four floors above the rear of the existing building.

The re-developed building will house:

  • The Pervasive Media Studio
  • New incubation and grow-on Studios
  • An additional cinema screen (taking our total to 4)
  • Additional flexible event spaces (taking our total to 5)
  • The Café and Bar

All of which will help to sustain the growth of new talent and ideas.

View of Watershed buildings dated 1935 during Queen's visit

E shed in 1935 during a visit from The Queen. Image courtesy of Bristol Museums Galleries & Archives

Our ambitious aims for ensuring we improve the environmental sustainability of the whole venue are at the heart of our plans, our new spaces will improve access and accessibility through extending our ground floor street front presence with improved physical access to the upper floors of the building. We will also improve our toilets and facilities including for people who are disabled and young children plus the introduction of gender neutral facilities.

“As well as increasing our capacity for creativity and inclusive innovation, our new expanded building will radically improve our sustainability, securing a bright future for our historic building and boosting the resilience of our economic model. Sustainable design and energy efficient facilities and materials across our workspaces, studios, cinemas and event spaces will transform our environmental impact and significantly improve the visitor experience.”  Miriam Randall, Executive Director

Derelict sheds in 1981

E & W Sheds pre development in 1981. Image courtesy of Bristol Museums Galleries & Archives

“Watershed is a space where I am accepted for just being me. Expansion means they will be able to spread their all-inclusive ethos to a greater number of people whilst also enabling more engagement with diverse and marginalised communities …”  Lawrence Hoo, Pervasive Media Studio Resident

Read more about our plans

We will be hosting a number of open meetings which will be advertised as part of our public programme and we will be meeting with interested groups and stakeholders.  The first open meeting will be on 10th January 2019 at 6pm in Pervasive Media Studio and is open to all. You can book a free ticket here.