The story of Bristol Beacon and Aviva Studios, home of Factory International

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Move over London – there’s never been a better time for culture outside the capital

The Times

2023 saw the completion of two cultural landmarks, Bristol Beacon and Aviva Studios, home of Factory International. These ground-breaking venues defied austerity to put culture back at the beating heart of our UK cities. 

Aviva Studios is a new global destination for arts, music and culture. Designed to build on the success of Manchester International Festival, the building represents the largest investment in a national cultural project since Tate Modern in 2000. Opening with Danny Boyle’s take on The Matrix, the 7000-capacity venue is set to deliver one of Europe’s most ambitious year-round creative programmes.

Designed by Ellen Van Loon of Rotterdam based OMA, Aviva Studios is the practice’s first UK project. Van Loon has described the building as ‘created for the next generation, a building that gives people a place to try new things, not to conform to what you should do.’

Closer to home, Bristol Beacon has undergone a major renovation. Designed by Levitt Bernstein Architects, the transformation has realised world-class acoustics in the main Beacon Hall, as well as unlocking underground wine cellars to create an atmospheric performance space, and a new music education centre for young people.

Over a million man-hours went into this project, which was not without it challenges. Revealed within the old building were unexpected hazards that included hollow pillars supporting roofs and a series of Elizabethan well shafts. The care and consideration taken throughout this renovation is evident in every detail, realising an icon for Bristol that embraces the stories of its past while celebrating the bright cultural future of our city. 


Louise Mitchell, Chief Executive, Bristol Beacon 

Sheena Wrigley, Venue Director, Factory International 

Mark Lewis, Associate Director, Levitt Bernstein