Insight / 08-Sep-22

Practice Foundations and the spirit of Community Architecture

Written by Simon Burgess
Practice Foundations and the spirit of Community Architecture

As we approach the 50 year milestone since the foundation of Poynton Bradbury Wynter Cole Architects, we take a moment to reflect on the origin of the practice and how it has been influenced by its early community spirited projects.

In January 1973 Joe Poynton, just returned from a two year stint working in West Africa, ran out of petrol in Penzance; it turned out that the Good Samaritan who came to his aid just happened to be in need of an architect. This encounter, plus the opportunity to share an attic studio in St Ives, was the unlikely beginning of what was to become one of the South West’s leading architectural practices.

From the outset the new firm sought out the more difficult and challenging projects such as the Barbara Hepworth Museum and the ‘keyhole surgery’ conversion of derelict sail lofts into its own offices as well as working with local amenity groups on community projects. The first of these, Ludgvan Community Centre, was built with unemployed construction workers under the Wilson government’s Job Creation Scheme. The success of this project at a time of deep economic recession caught the attention of HRH The Prince of Wales who went on to commission the practice to design and enable a number of Community Architecture projects on his Somerset estates.

Publication of the firm’s work together with a steady stream of design awards soon started to attract some very talented young architects ( perhaps also enticed by the surfing lifestyle ) and this international combination of talent and experience enabled the practice to expand and undertake projects far beyond its original West Cornwall base.

The evolution of PBWC Architects over its first 50 years has been described as a mirror of Cornwall itself, from modest beginnings to a burgeoning community at the leading edge of creative innovation.

Meet the Author

Simon Burgess
BA(Hons)  BArch(Hons)  ARB  RIBA Simon studied architecture at Liverpool... Read More

BA(Hons)  BArch(Hons)  ARB  RIBA

Simon studied architecture at Liverpool University before moving to London in 1990 to work on a wide range of projects including specialist housing for those with mental and physical disabilities, primary and secondary healthcare projects, sheltered housing and townhouse conversions. He has also illustrated a book on caring environments for the frail elderly and was privileged to work on Stephen Hawking’s private home in Cambridge.

Simon joined the practice in 1997 and has continued to lead a range of building types including schools and colleges, residential, sheltered housing, lifeboat stations and healthcare projects. These included Padstow, Appledore, Hoylake and Lytham St Annes lifeboat stations, the Sunrise Centre at Treliske and Carclaze primary school. Becoming a director in 2008 Simon is responsible for the Environmental and Quality Management Systems, Project and Practice Policies and Procedures and ISO9001 and ISO14001 accreditation. 

Simon is particularly interested in ensuring that the experience for those working at PBWC is positive and was instrumental in the plans for PBWC Architects to become an Employee-Owned Trust in 2019.

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