In memory of Bristol architect Colin Beales

Bristol architect Colin Beales

Bristol architect Colin Beales

This information is on display at The Beales Bequest exhibition at The Ken Stradling Collection.

The collage of photographs

The photographs within the collage displayed in The Beales Bequest exhibition at The Ken Stradling Collection include some of the buildings that Colin designed or worked on during his career as a successful Bristol architect. Derek Balmer took many of the professional photographs of the buildings and their interiors.

Collage wall at Colin's old flat

Collage wall at Colin’s old flat

The images have been arranged in a collage formation, which is reminiscent of Colin’s way of working on architectural projects. It is also similar to the collage wall in his old flat at 19 West Mall. A photograph of this collage is featured. It provides a wide range of inspirational images, from furniture, sculpture and food, to even a cat.

The Dickinson Robinson building

The Dickinson Robinson building

 

The Dickinson Robinson Building, or 1 Redcliffe Street

The Dickinson Robinson Building, or 1 Redcliffe Street, was the headquarters for Dickinson Robinson Group (DRG) in Bristol, designed by its own architecture department and completed in 1963. Modern buildings were accepted for DRG’s factories, so they were eventually persuaded that a modern building for their headquarters would be appropriate too. 

These headquarters rose out of post-war dereliction, displaying new optimism and modernist ideas on architecture as expressed by the architect Le Corbusier. The design is simple with pleasing repetition. Good quality materials were used, including Carrara marble panels that fitted over the concrete beams. Glass and bronze are the other main external materials, all of which have weathered well. The scale adds to the building’s impressive form. It is 200 feet high, making it the first commercial tower building in Bristol.

Robinson building interior staircase

Robinson building interior staircase

Colin felt this was the best building he had worked on, which he did when he was aged just 32. He led the design of the interior furniture, furnishings and layouts and was also responsible for liaising with the company secretary who acted as the client.

An article about the building in the Observer from the 1960s describes Colin’s great sense of colour in the interior design. For instance, it says that the refectory had white walls and “spidery black metal chairs with orange and green cushions”. The main entrance, which the Observer stated “relied on proportion”, contained Barcelona chairs designed by Mies van de Rohe and just one bold splash of colour in the form of an olive-green carpet. The meeting rooms contained Eero Saarinen furniture. Quality furniture was used throughout the building.

Robinson building interior design

Robinson building interior design

1 Redcliffe Street produced many comments both for and against its design and existence, which continue to this day. This initially stemmed from its position within the historic Redcliff area and particularly in terms of its relation to adjacent grade II listed church and medieval buildings. However, the building was sympathetic towards its environment: Its arched windows were meant to echo the type of Victorian warehouse that it replaced. Other notable points include the fact that it was one of the first completely sealed air-conditioned buildings in the UK. It also remains one of the most efficient working spaces ever to be designed in this country. This efficiency was mirrored during its construction, as the architects worked onsite throughout the building process, which was novel and innovative at the time.

In 2006, Jack Penrose, who has head of the construction team for this building project, requested to the English Heritage National Monuments Record that 1 Redcliffe Street be listed under ‘Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest’. This was declined. Reasons included its supposedly poor integration with its setting, its repetitiveness, its lack of any interior and its very mixed critical reception. The building was also said to be of interest locally, but not nationally.

Bristol United Press building

Bristol United Press building

The Bristol United Press building in Temple Way

The Bristol United Press building was built for the publishing and printing of newspapers owned by the Bristol Evening Post Group, which included the Bristol Evening Post, The Western Daily Press, the New Shopper and the New Observer. It was also the headquarters of the Evening Post.

Colin Beales had the position of ‘deputy group architect’ and John Collins was the leader with the title, ‘group architect’. They were both part of the Group Architects DRG that was appointed to design this building in March 1966. Colin suggested the collective name, “Group Architects”. The construction began in December 1970 and was completed in September 1974.

Evening post building with Colin walking up the exterior stairway

Evening post building with Colin walking up the exterior stairway

The architects received Commendation from the Royal Institute of British Architects Architecture Award in 1975.

 

The Beales Bequest will be open to view every Wednesday 10 – 4pm and by appointment until 11th March.

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