At the start of December Bristol’s Engine Shed, a tech incubation and business acceleration space, celebrated its second anniversary with the launch of Boxworks, a unique office development that re-imagines shipping containers as modern work spaces.

 Boxworks being created: Speeded up footage of the office containers being prepared

Engine Shed is a ground-breaking collaboration between Bristol City Council and the University of Bristol, supported by the Homes and Communities Agency. The project contributed an additional £7m to the economy within 12 months of opening, and it is this success and the demand for more space at the Engine Shed that has led to the creation of this imaginative temporary extension.

Boxworks expands the business hub, which reached full occupancy in its first year, by 30%. Boxworks is not a permanent structure, it will last for up to two and a half years as part of the strategic vision for the regeneration of the Enterprise Zone in Bristol, creating employment space for businesses that will benefit the wider West of England.

“We are delighted to welcome another 20 enterprises to our community”


Nick Sturge, Engine Shed Director, says “This marks an exciting point – not only for Engine Shed but also for the Enterprise Zone. This 30% increase in capacity within the Engine Shed ‘campus’ and a stepping stone to our permanent expansion, which we are actively working on now. We are delighted to welcome another 20 enterprises to our community and are particularly pleased that we have been able to support a social enterprise hub in the space – it is important for us to help facilitate learning between not-for-profit and for-profit enterprises. Let the growth continue.”


The Boxworks launch: Visitors are shown around the Engine Shed’s latest office offering

Boxworks’ tenants Karl Belizaire from Social Enterprise Works, the social enterprise hub Nick mentions, says “Social Enterprise Works is thrilled to be establishing a new social enterprise hub in the heart of Bristol’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone at Boxworks, in partnership with the School for Social Entrepreneurs, the Bristol and Bath Social Enterprise Network and Engine Shed.

“We’re looking forward to hosting our monthly social enterprise surgery in our innovative new offices and working closely amongst the vibrant high tech communities to help demystify social value and the various profit with purpose and social business models available.”

Designed to be different

The Boxworks project was designed and built by Forward who will also be in charge of commercial operations, with services including access to the Engine Shed Lounge provided by the Engine Shed. Forward’s CEO, Gavin Eddy said “Boxworks is designed to be different – inside and out. Not only is it a great location but the space is eye-catching, flexible, affordable and fun. It is a diverse community of startups, early stage small businesses and those requiring grow-on space. Boxworks reflects the breadth and ambition of businesses emerging in Bristol.”

“We know that having affordable office space in the early stages of any business is crucial to its success”


The development aims to address the shortage in affordable, flexible and curated work spaces in Bristol and was made possible by sponsorship from Lloyds Banking Group. Jen Tippin, Managing Director of Retail Business Banking, said: “We know that having affordable office space in the early stages of any business is crucial to its success, so we’re proud to support Engine Shed.”


Creative space: fun and affordable

Boxworks will serve to provide the enterprise zone with much needed office space before the unveiling of Engine Shed phase 2 in late 2017, opening near the current location.

You can check out Engine Shed on Twitter @EngineShed_BB and follow Forward @ForwardSpace.

Geraint Evans