Crest Paintworks, Bristol

Key facts

  • PROJECT: Crest Nicholson Paintworks Exemplar Project
  • LOCATION: The site is located adjacent to the existing Paintworks development, on the River Avon, in Bristol
  • CLIENT: Crest Nicholson
  • SIZE: Paintworks is a mixed-use development in Bristol with the scheme comprising of the re-development of a 2.47 hectare brownfield site, and the creation of 11 live / work units, 210 houses and apartments and 6,700sqm of commercial floor space. The Crest Nicholson Paintworks Exemplar Project with Stewart Milne Timber Systems consisted of 96 units, split into 8 terraces of houses and 4 Blocks of Flats, with the timber frame element being an order value of circa £1.2m
  • TIMING: 18 Months

Type and size of project

Based in the heart of Bristol’s Creative Quarter, the original paintworks site was built in 1850 and used as a Victorian paint and varnish factory. This tight inner city site required speed and quality of build to deliver the project on time and within budget.

The development was to include a mixture of high rise concrete frame structures, including residential apartments and commercial accommodations, and timber frame townhouses with a high specification of external and internal features. As the scheme focused on the use of cycle routes and pedestrian links, logistical access to the units had to be accounted for in the project. There was also a requirement for the project to meet CSH4 and BREEAM Very Good standards, with a key focus on energy efficiency and sustainability.

Crest Nicholson, one of the UK’s leading residential property developers, appointed Stewart Milne Timber Systems to provide technical and operational support to design, manufacture, supply and erect timber build systems for the project.

The exemplar project phase had a start date of late September 2015.


Description of project

To address the construction needs, sustainability objectives, and on-site challenges of the project, a timber frame solution was utilised that involved small panels and loose joists that could be pre-loaded into position and then manually erected. This addressed the challenge of only one crane being available on-site, by minimising the “hook time” on this single crane. If large panel, floor and wall cassettes were utilised, additional cranes would have been required, which this tight inner city site could not accommodate.

A key driver in the specification of timber as the central construction method, was to meet the objective of reducing energy consumption. The low carbon credentials provided by a timber fabric construction contributed towards achieving this objective, along with speed and efficiency and the ability to work within the constraints of the phased occupation of the site.

In addition to energy efficiencies, the use of off-site construction with Stewart Milne Timber Systems brought several benefits to this project. The access limitations of the site for material offload and distribution meant that a panelised timber solution minimised site deliveries. This enabled a just-in-time delivery of timber panels and cassettes to be loaded directly into the working area, rather than composite traditional materials being double handled.

The overall cost of the project in timber frame was also very competitive due to speed of build and control of work in progress. Utilising Stewart Milne Timber Solutions ultimately enabled the buildings to be constructed quickly and safely ahead of programme, without compromising on quality. The timber frame construction method also enabled greater cost certainty when benchmarked against masonry composite building materials.

This exemplar project by Stewart Milne Timber Systems was completed in late March 2017.

Homes For Scotland Home Builders Federation National House-Building Council Royal Institute of British Architects Structural Timber Association Constructionline British Board of Agrement Wood Campus Build Off Site Building Research Establishment WOOD FOR GOOD

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