Book: Chamberlin Powell & Bon
Their leader, Peter Joe Chamberlin, died young and little of their archive survives. But detective work has revealed a complex story about three determined characters and a surprising variety of fascinating architecture. Chamberlin worked on the Festival of Britain, but the practice was formed only in when Geoffry Powell won a housing competition in London. The resulting Golden Lane Estate is as light and brightly-coloured as the adjoining Barbican that followed is monumental. In between the firm produced a range of buildings that pushed concrete technology to its limits, including houses and schools, Murray Edwards College New Hall in Cambridge, and major extensions to Leeds University.
Chamberlin, Powell and Bon was a British firm of architects whose work involved designing the Barbican Estate. They are considered one of the most important modernist architectural firms in post-war England. The practice was founded in by Geoffry Powell — , Peter "Joe" Chamberlin — and Christoph Bon — , following Powell's win in the architectural competition for the Golden Lane Estate. The three founding partners taught at Kingston Polytechnic now Kingston University School of Architecture when they each entered the design competition with the agreement that should any of them win they would form a partnership with the other two to deliver the project. The Golden Lane Estate is sometimes referred to as the apprentice piece of the practice and is important for its planned landscape which 'straddles the boundary between the picturesque and the formal'.
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The Barbican still stands supreme, however, as a symbol of optimism and self-confidence as well as a stark reminder of the power wielded by a blank slate. Today, there are few modern global cities that could offer up such a site, giving the muscular buildings a uniqueness that might never be repeated. -