The University of Bristol has secured planning permission to convert two former industrial buildings in Temple Quarter into a new hub for some of its most state-of-the-art and world-leading research facilities.

The buildings, previously the Vauxhall Drive workshop in Avon Street, St Phillips, will be the first to open as part of the University’s planned new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus and is due to open in early 2023.

The new research hub will create a bespoke facility for the £100m Bristol Digital Futures Institute (BDFI), an international University Research Institute that is pioneering sociotechnical approaches to digital innovation, with an ambition to drive the creation of new technologies for inclusive, prosperous and sustainable societies, and MyWorld, a £46 million University of Bristol-led programme which will position the Bristol and Bath region as an international trailblazer in the creative technologies enabling the future of production, dissemination and evaluation of screen based media.

Shaping the digital future of Temple Quarter

When fully complete in early 2023, the spaces will be occupied by up to 250 people and will include specialist research facilities plus workspaces, collaboration areas, training, and meeting rooms.

The buildings will include the world’s first “Reality Emulator”, a sector agnostic digital twin, where partners and researchers can drive the creation of future digital solutions through novel experience-based, iterative approaches. The new facility will provide a rich environment of real-world research and experimentation, advance telecommunications technologies, open data platforms, powerful data centre infrastructure and immersive technologies. Local and remote teams will have the opportunity to experience and interact with digital models of physical and social worlds, for example a smart city, digital factory, or health system, and collaborate towards the creation of future digital systems.

A 150m² Instrumented Auditorium will bring researchers, partners and the public closer together to test new digital content and co-develop new technology that will benefit all our futures. This also includes a modern, digitally connected projection room that enables teams from all sectors to evaluate individual and group responses in unique and ground-breaking ways and better understand audience experiences.

In addition, there will be a 250m² R&D studio space equipped with virtual production, volumetric capture and motion capture arrays amongst other production facilities, including production standard audio and visual edit suites.

A specially created ‘Neutral Lab’ will be a one-of-a-kind experimental collaborative space where project teams from different sectors, backgrounds and disciplines can co-design their working environment, develop their project and new sociotechnical research methodologies, and benefit from interactions with each other.

Robert Kerse, Chief Operating Officer at the University of Bristol, says, “This is an important and exciting milestone for the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus and will provide a fantastic new base for some of the University’s most exciting and world-leading research programmes – augmenting Bristol’s already thriving digital media sector.

“This will be the first step in regenerating and delivering the future vision for Temple Quarter and St Philip’s Marsh and will help drive the city and region’s post Covid recovery.”