Backfields House -workspaces and shop for Emmaus Bristol

Emmaus Bristol is a charity that helps the homeless rebuild their lives through work and community contribution. With the help of ERDF funding, Emmaus acquired the former Knightstone headquarters in Stokes Croft for their own workshop, offices and showroom, along with incubator workspaces for startup businesses. 

The brief was to take a 'light touch' refurbishment approach on a tight budget, whilst securing the building as the long term home for the charity. 

The new retail space for Emmaus Bristol was an opportunity for the Charity to change the way they worked, and their image within the community. No longer situated in an out-of-town warehouse, the new space delivers a restrained white backdrop with funky feature lights and plywood joinery.  

Robustness was a key concern for Emmaus. Their stock is often large and heavy; and they have a very quick turnover of goods. To meet this criteria the shop has a hardwearing grey epoxy resin floor in the main circulation spaces, and white easy-to-maintain painted walls. The fixed joinery is positioned to maximise the sales area, whilst giving the space much needed geography. 

Money was spent on improving accessibility throughout the building, and on the public sales areas. Large new shop windows were punched through the Upper York Street facade, allowing daylight to flood into the retail space, and giving the shop a visible place on the street.

In the warehouse, new workshops under the existing warehouse mezzanine were created to provide warm, secure work rooms - without needing to heat the entire space. In the office a minimal change strategy was adopted, centred around an open plan arrangement freshened up with a new coat of paint and maintenance of the existing mechanical and electrical systems.


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