the universe project

earth & evolution centre, bristol, 2018

The Universe Project demonstrates how acting sustainably can help with health and well-being, and how easy it can be to be environmentally conscious. The public can participate in a variety of thought-provoking, creative, and health awareness activities including advice from professionals in the Trust Spot. Operating on two methodical levels – a basic offer of café, art and craft community groups to attract visitors, and a second level of more profound ideas of tackling change in a more significant manner.

what we did

Create a proposal for an ‘Earth & Community Evolution Centre’ at the Finzel’s Reach site in Bristol – An all-encompassing focal point for sustainable activism, reconnecting communities through a natural perspective towards a better planetary future.


Evolution of journey, self, time, body, and mind. We live as part of an intricate and complex network of interconnected systems uniting Earth and its inhabitants. These relationships have slowly developed over billions of years. “However, our rapid success as a species has begun to affect this natural order, with our population at seven billion and climbing, we have played a tremendous role in the disruption of Earth’s natural systems. As we continue to grow and have a greater impact on the Earth’s systems, it is imperative that we address our role and relationship with nature.” (Robinett, 2014).

The site is situated in part of the old Bristol Brewery in Bristol’s city centre. Its north-west frontage overlooks the Floating Harbour and Castle Park. The new Finzel’s Bridge provides a direct link between the site and Bristol’s shopping district. The two buildings were formerly the North Fermentation Building and Compressor House, which are connected at the first floor. It resides within a conservation area but is not a listed site. The Brewery produced beer from 1702, undergoing numerous ownership changes and renovations. The site closed in 200 and has been unoccupied since.

How can you change attitudes of an urban-based society towards a more socially sustainable future? The centre will need to offer a range of services and activities to attract visitors. These events should help to evolve people’s attitudes. It should show how acting sustainably can help health and well-being, and how easy it can be to be environmentally conscious. The centre will have a variety of thought-provoking, creative and health awareness activities as well as offering advice and help to take further sustainable action. Operating on two levels – a basic offer of café, art and craft community groups, to attract visitors, and a second level of offers that tackle change in a more significant manner.


As a result of ad hoc renovations, the utilitarian bonded warehouse style buildings feature a mix of stone and mortar, Victorian brick, local sandstone, slate, and twentieth century tiles. These textures are part of the building overall patina and can be aesthetically pleasing. This has been used as a backdrop to the new insertions to reflect the notion of ‘old versus new’ and express the buildings evolution. In response to encouraging a reconnect with nature, the scheme utilizes the natural light from the two sets of skylights and frames the views of Castle Park within large windows.

‘Evolution’ is the running theme for this project. This can be the evolution of the journey, of self, of time, or more literally the materials and sustainability demonstrated in the scheme. This project required extensive research including interviews, reaching out to the local community, and reading theoretical, philosophical, and scientific research. Bristol is already highly noted for its efforts for sustainability; but following a conduction of interviews and questionnaires, the people feel it could do more. The Universe Project promotes a ‘working together’ attitude whilst answering problems for the individual, their neighbours, and local businesses. A community centre should feel inclusive of everyone from like-minded eco-warriors to business owners wanting to improve their ethics.

The concept was derived from research into how organic forms are created from plotted sequences. Ernst Haeckel was both scientist and artist, recognising the beauty of organic forms in nature. Haeckel’s Recapitulation Theory is a historical theory that all living creatures of their phylogeny grow and develop alike. His embryological drawings showed similarities between human and animal stages of development; claiming that all embryos begin as a similar form and then diverge. Surrealist painter, Salvador Dali once filled up a Rolls Royce Phantom II with 500kg of cauliflowers and drove it to Paris from Spain in 1955. He explained to an American Journalist that he was attracted to their logarithmic curve. The Fibonacci Sequence when drawn as a diagram creates a logarithmic curve which is often found in nature. The two buildings in this project feature a grid of structural columns – this was used to plot the ‘Foetal Curve’ which runs throughout the building.


The majority of the Foetal Curve is wooden Grid Shell structure, which allows it to twist and bend. Inspired by communal artwork: The People’s Brick Company, Bristol’s community can be included in the realization of the scheme by making their own tile to hang onto the Grid Shell. Each tile will be made of sustainable materials – some made in-house by the community in the activism workshop and others would be branded products made by specialist companies, designers and artists. These tiles will provide a public resource gallery of alternative textiles, bioplastics, wood, paper, dyes, surface finishes, stone, and ceramics. They are tied onto the Grid Shell using sustainable string, making it an evolving community-led monument.

All furniture is bespoke. There are two categories: Grid and Curve. Grid furniture is minimal and detached from the “Foetal Curve”. They are rectilinear in design which contrasts with the curved forms. This concept is inspired by Architect Richard Meier’s MACBA planning whereby a series of linear elements juxtapose a curved form, making its presence feel more powerful. The Foetal Curve is plotted against the linear formation of the structural columns; changing as it journeys through the building. Curve furniture are part of the physical curve, changing into desks and then to storage spaces. Any entryways in the Foetal Curve flow with it as sliding, bi-fold, and pivot doors.

a creative team that achieve results...

Boaz Studio Services

"You have been incredibly instrumental in the first part of this project and given us inspiration on how best to utilise our space, giving us vision on layout, design, style and colours. You are very skilled at what you do !!"

5/ 5 Stars

"Boaz Studio came in to advise on the complete refurbishment of the communal space here at Sunley Orford House, a purpose-built block of quality retirement housing in the centre of Truro. Having listened thoroughly to the design brief he provided well thought out advice on materials, colours and decoration with options that not only bring a more contemporary feel but will revitalise the space for the future. His thought and attention to detail was appreciated by all involved."

5/ 5 Stars

"I found boaz studio to be the perfect combination of design ideas and down to earth sense. They opened my eyes to aspects I hadn’t considered and delt with problems in creative ways."

5/ 5 Stars

"Stephen managed to build a true understanding of what we wanted and embed that in his conceptual designs. When we first saw those designs for a fresh and contemporary take on the heritage library, we knew that we would be creating something special."

5/ 5 Stars