Bristol’s Western Harbour



Bristol City Council commissioned Turner Works and The Place Bureau to develop a vision for Bristol’s Western Harbour. Play:Disrupt were invited to design and deliver a city wide participation model to support the development of a vision for the area. The council were keen to include voices from across the city, reach out to under-represented groups and put art, culture and inclusivity at the heart of the engagement.

An older woman with a face visor gestures towards colourful block with colourful flags on the table infront of her



Working with the client, we developed a focused workshop for small groups that could be delivered across the city at targeted community groups and at public events. Drawing on our own mapping and landmarking techniques and the 7 Generations of Placeknowing (Jojola and Shirley) we designed a workshop that connected people to place and each other, then invited them to view that place through time. Our workshop worked towards place principles, considering what important aspects were needed in future communities of Bristol. Workshop activities included loose parts theory, model making and storytelling.

8 people sit around a table outside, in discussion
A hand points to colourful block and flags on a white table with a blue line representing the Avon River in Bristol on it

“Play:Disrupt worked with us as a sub consultant to the lead consultancy, Turner Works through Autumn/Winter 2021 on the Western Harbour Vision community engagement. It was a pleasure to work with them, their imaginative methods helped us to broaden the conversation about the future of the area to people who it would have been more difficult to reach through more traditional methods. This allowed us to hear particularly from respondents a little further from the project area who may have had different experiences and perspectives to those closer to the site. Through them we have built relationships with groups which we hope to be able to continue into the future. We found them professional and engaged and would recommend working with them.”

Bristol City Council, Regeneration Department



Workshops were delivered across the city connecting with groups as diverse as a women’s refugee arts groups, a Caribbean elders club, a local history group, an adventure playground, and a garden centre. We also held online sessions allowing additional access. Feedback on the activity was overwhelmingly positive and the change in perceptions of the project significant. A key activity in the workshop was the building of a geographical map, which the group then switched into a timeline. This allowed the participants to look at the patterns of usage over 200 years, the important aspects of neighbourhoods for them growing up and to help imagine what might be needed to make a place work in the future. The switching of maps was significant in that it enabled citizens to see the city through a wider lens, revealing patterns that drew them far deeper into the activity.

Place principles were fed back to Turner Works who, together with Place Bureau and Bristol City Council, developed an interactive exhibition and the final visioning document.

Images by Alexie Segal

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