In January 2006 a call went out for submissions to the 200 Ideas for Bristol competition, backed by Brunel 200's media partner Bristol Evening Post. The ideas were to suggest ways for making Bristol an even better place to live, work in and visit, and to take inspiration from Brunel by breaking the rules, looking beyond current policy and seeking the new. While the competition was running, a display was set up at The Architecture Centre in Bristol to provide inspiration, partly based on artwork from two 20 Ideas for Bristol exhibitions held in the 1970s.
By the time the 200 Ideas for Bristol competition had closed, over 400 submissions had been received from the general public. Some of the ideas were just for fun, many were decidedly quirky, some offered the potential for genuine transformation. All of them were deemed to be suitably Brunellian in their approach. Additional ideas were also received from local schools and from students at the University of the West of England, bringing the total of ideas submitted to over 500.
A long-list of 200 demonstrating the wide range of suggestions received was compiled to form the basis of a further exhibition at The Architecture Centre and an accompanying illustrated catalogue. The competition winner was announced at the end of the exhibition. Jeffrey Lucas's Bristol's Looking Up comprised faceted blocks of Redcliffe sandstone placed in front of the Market Hall on Corn Street topped with mirror-finish stainless steel that would reflect the sky, the roofline and the surrounding buildings. Jeffrey's project aimed to give people unexpected views of the street - one of the historically most significant in the city - so that they would pause and look around them. The blocks would also provide attractive seating. Jeffrey won a £1,000 cash prize for his idea.
Lottie Storey, assistant director of the Architecture Centre, who co-curated the exhibition and was on the final judging panel, said:
“The Architecture Centre exists to help everyone understand and appreciate architecture in all its forms and within its social and cultural context; to encourage public demand for excellence in design; and to encourage public engagement and ownership. 200 Ideas for Bristol exemplifies all of these aspirations by encouraging the people of Bristol to think about the city, how it currently works and what could be done to improve Bristol. It encapsulates everything that is great about Bristol - creativity, innovation, and a touch of mad genius, but with real possibilities for the future of our city”.
The exhibition coincided with the 2006 Bristol Festival of Ideas and the long list of 200 entries was included on the festival website. Tying in with the Brunel 200 celebrations, the festival included a debate, which asked whether the great age of progress, typified by Brunel and his contemporaries, is now at an end. There were also sessions on how ideas travel, what the South West should do for Darwin 200 in 2009, the nature of heroes and heroism today, and the creativity of the past.