The Soapworks – Commercial Building

Sitting within the heart of a vibrant new Bristol neighbourhood, the historic Soapworks building will provide over 135,000 sqf of office space

Workplace at The Old Soapworks

Workplace ArchitectureIn Progress


As part of the Soapworks masterplan, this historic building is currently being restored and refurbished to provide 135,851 sqf of first class office space, with food & beverage facilities at ground level.

Talk to Julian Cross about Workplace Architecture

Project details

This site has been the location of industry in Bristol since the early 19th century, when it was the site of the Christopher Thomas & Brothers Soapworks. The brothers built, in addition to the industrial buildings on the north of the site, terraced worker housing where the car park is now located. Woods Bagot’s design proposal seeks to re-engage this historic use of the site by locating commercial buildings on the site of the former Soapworks and reinstating New Bread Street and its associated residential uses.

The proposed workplace has parallels with the original industrial past of the site and the architectural narrative seeks to embrace this relationship with materials that are of an industrial nature that will complement the retained brick facades on Slees Lane, Straight Street and New Thomas Street. The massing steps away from the listed building to create the northern portion of Soapworks Square. Overall height has been studied and reduced over the course of consultations to respond to the conservation area which includes this portion of the site. Effort has been made to maximise active frontages along Straight Street, New Thomas Street and Soapworks Square, with key entrances located on each frontage to animate the public realm, encouraging a buzzing hub of continuous activity. 

Retained brick facades and exposed ceilings and services are a nod to the site’s immense industrial past. Occupants are afforded views of the listed Soap Pan building to the south and the listed Gardiner’s Warehouse to the north.

The office lobby has an entrance on Soapworks Square and is a flexible space that links shops, cafes and workplace within the building. All of the commercial spaces are being designed to meet the British Council for Offices (BCO) standards, in addition to the creation of efficient floorplates and a central core than can support single or multiple tenants to maximise flexibility. Cycling entrances have been incorporated, with changing and storage facilities provided with sheltered access to the lobby and offices above. Encouraging a cycle-friendly area, provision has also been made for visitor cycle parking within the public realm.

Wellbeing has also played a pivotal role in the design of this modern workplace. As well as creating well-lit, energy efficient and comfortable interior spaces, access to the outdoors has become increasingly important for physical and mental health. The design therefore includes terraces along the north, east and southern sides of the building. Workers throughout the building will also have the landscaped Soapworks Square at their doorstep, with spaces for rest and spots to grab a sunny lunch.

Bristol, UK
First Base / Socius Development Limited
135,851 sqf
In Progress

Talk to Julian Cross about Workplace Architecture