ARCHITECTURE MASTERCLASS - V

Introduced by Aaron Evans on 11 May 1998

Aaron Evans, of Aaron Evans Associates, presented a series of slides demonstrating the work of his firm in and near Bath completed during his 20 - year association with the city.
Initially his emphasis was on restoration work such as the Huntingdon Chapel which was converted to serve as the home of the Building of Bath Museum. In less sensitive locations, like the Lower Bristol Road, he used more modern designs while other locations, such as Widcombe Parade, called for a combination approach with a traditional facade and an open plan interior.
A long-running development in Calne illustrated how some projects, in order to be successful, need the enthusiasm and financial involvement only government agencies can provide.
He also showed special projects designed for unique clients such as the Natural Theatre Company and Andrew Brownsword. In each instance, he stressed a desire to achieve a sense of place and appropriateness in design. During the question period, Mr Evans was asked if the Calne experience might be transferred to Southgate. For it to work, he replied, the Council would need to take a proactive role and to set a brief which gave direction to the project: for example, housing should assume a prominent role.
How much housing could you get in Southgate? Between 200 and 400 units if it was a high priority. As an example, he compared the housing incorporated in his current work in Westgate Street with that of Southgate. Westgate Street contains more housing units yet is only a fraction of the size of Southgate.
Asked about changes, he felt there was a more positive attitude toward modern architecture and also more thinking about context rather than concentration only on a specific building.
How could the Council cope with planning applications given their lack of staff? He argued for a greater partnership with the planners. The Council should make the brief clear to developers at all stages, particularly at the beginning.
Victor Suchar thanked Aaron for illustrating his role in Bath during the last 20 years and giving the audience the benefit of his years of experience especially in this anniversary year of his firm.
Betty Suchar