Chamberlin, Powell & Bon

(Left to right) Geoffry Powell, Christof Bon, and Peter Chamberlin, outside their Fulham studio in 1953.

In 1951, the City of London launched a competition for designs for their proposed Golden Lane Estate. This was intended to be a residential complex for 900 residents on land next to (what was later to be) the Barbican estate. Chamberlin Powell and Bon each separately submitted designs. They had a pact that if any one of them won the competition, they would all work on the project together. When Geoffry Powell’s design won the competition in 1952, they set up an architectural practice together to build it, which they called Chamberlin Powell & Bon. The firm’s address (at least in its later days) was 1 Lamont Road Passage, King’s Road, London SW10.

Chamberlin Powell & Bon soon established themselves as one of the leading architectural practices in post-war Britain. It was an innovative practice for the time: architects, engineers and surveyors worked together in the same office. They were heavily influenced by Le Courbusier and the principles of Modernism.

There were many architectural firms which specialised in council housing. But Chamberlin Powell & Bon were not one of them. Apart from the Golden Lane estate and the Barbican, their main focus was on university buildings. From 1959 into the 1970s they worked on a scheme for the reconstruction of the campus at Leeds University and they designed several buildings for the University including laboratories and lecture blocks, halls of residence and libraries. In 1962 they began work on New Hall, Cambridge.

I have not found out much about the later life of the practice – life after the Barbican. The firm received the bronze medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1956 and 1957, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government medal in 1965, the Civic Trust commendation in 1973, and the RIBA Architecture Award in 1973 and 1974. Frank Woods and Charles Greenberg became additional partners during the life of the practice, but I do not know when.

Frank Woods, 2009

In 1985 the firm name became Chamberlin Powell Bon & Woods. Powell is recorded in Who’s Who as having retired from Chamberlin Powell & Bon and become a consultant of Chamberlin Powell Bon & Woods in 1985. Chamberlin had already died. There is no reference to Bon becoming a consultant in the new firm or when he retired.

I also haven’t found out what happened to the practice in the end.