O2i Design Consultants assisted Somerset Film in securing funding for the refurbishment of newly acquired premises. Somerset Film received considerable funding from Arts Council England towards the first phase of upgrading the Engine Room community media centre at 50/52 High Street in Bridgwater. The grant enabled Somerset Film to refurbish their premises to enhance their digital and creative media services, offer new community rehearsal and meeting spaces, house a local film and TV archive, improve edit facilities, provide hot desks for fledgling creative businesses and better access and connectivity throughout the premises.
When architecture studio O2i Design Ltd were first invited to look at the site on Bridgwater’s busy High Street, the building had fallen into disrepair, the staircase to the first floor was missing, floors had become unsafe and the attic was home to a flock of pigeons. The courtyard was used to store carnival equipment and the rear wall was a patchwork of historic repairs across three storeys.
O2i Design Ltd was commissioned by Somerset Film to create flexible new studio spaces over 3 floors, provide circulation links to their existing spaces and make the whole building fully accessible whilst incorporating sustainable building techniques. This was achieved by adding a new three-storey rear extension with the partial demolition of the existing building whilst retaining the front facade.
This winning project was a complex 3-storey refurbishment, which came under the supervision of Somerset Building Control Partnership (SBCP). Since the site was at the heart of the former mediaeval town and port of Bridgwater, archaeological supervision was required. The building underwent extensive works, with Phase 1 opening to the public in May 2016.
The building was completely gutted, leaving only the front facade and some spectacular temporary steel propping in place before the refurbishment was undertaken. A new steel and concrete framework has created three flexible studio spaces. The principal contractor on site was Qube Construction Solutions Ltd., a Taunton based firm who carried out all the building work.
Phil Shepherd, Facilitator, says “We intend that Engine Room 2.0 will be a creative skills and production resource the Bridgwater and Somerset community can be proud of. Come and see us and hear more about our plans!”
The plans for the second phase of development of Engine Room 2.0 have now begun (June 2017) and promise improved and enlarged studio facilities including dedicated space for disabled film makers.
This project has recently won "Best Public Service Building" across Somerset, Devon, Dorset and Cornwall for the renovation and extension of the Engine Room, Bridgwater for Somerset Film as part of the LABC South West Regional Building Excellence Awards 2017.