Plans for the restoration of Hangar 16U at the huge new Brabazon neighbourhood have been unveiled by developer YTL. The building will become home to a new public library, café, gym and social centre, as part of the broader regeneration of the wider area.
First opened in 1915 as an Aircraft Acceptance Facility for the Royal Flying Corps, Hanger 16U sits on the former Filton Airfield that is currently becoming Brabazon – the large housing development that will neighbour the new YTL Bristol Arena being built inside other hangars on site. Hangar 16U is located between what will become Brabazon Park, a new 15-acre public open space granted planning consent in October, and a section of the new housing development, known as The Hangar District.
Newly released images show that the new building will retain many of its original features, including prefabricated Belfast trusses of the roof and red brickwork. The ground floor will feature a sizeable open-plan cafe and a new library with quiet pods for studying and arched nooks for meetings.
Upstairs will offer dedicated youth spaces and more activity rooms intended to be used for after-school clubs, informal study groups, workshops and recreation. A large hall will provide a multi-purpose social space that can be used for public meetings and events. There will also be rooms for activities and exercise classes and a fitness centre with cardio machines and weight training facilities.
The park to the west of the hanger will include playgrounds, lawns and an outdoor exercise area, while to the east, there will be a new public square that will accommodate pop-up markets and food stalls. Hangar 16U will form part of a new Heritage Trail through Brabazon that will connect the three buildings that give The Hangar District its name, including the Brabazon Hangars, soon to become the 17,000-capacity YTL Arena and the Aerospace Bristol Museum.
Work on the grade II listed hanger is due to begin in 2023, with the aim of opening it to the public the following year. Bristol-based architects Ferguson Mann will manage the project’s design. The firm also oversaw the development of Bristol’s harbourside Millennium Square, Anchor Square and Anchor Place.
The plans are part of the redevelopment of the 380 acres of the old airfield with the aim of creating a new city district with 2,600 homes, new entertainment facilities and workspaces. Over £100 million is being invested in improving local infrastructure in tandem with the construction, including a new railway station in North Filton to connect Brabazon to Bristol Temple Meads. It was recently announced that the new station, initially due to open next year, will not open until 2026 after delays blamed on several design changes.
Sebastian Loyn, Planning and Development Director at YTL Developments, said: “The restoration of Hangar 16U will see this historic structure return to its rightful place as the centre of community life. As a vibrant local hub and multi-use space, it will celebrate culture, nurture social bonds and be a focal point for the new community at Brabazon.
“Whether its meeting old friends in the café or making new friends at community workshops, the new social centre will provide something for everyone, a place for all ages and for all interests, for this generation and the next.”