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Having no wish to follow into the family firm he decided that he wanted to be an architect and after he finished his schooling he was articled to a local practice. However, he soon realised that he needed a broader education and enrolled himself full-time at the Birmingham School of Architecture, then part of the College of Art. Gibberd worked on the Southampton Civic Centre commission during his time at the practice, until he was laid off in the recession of the early s.
Rather than seek work in another office he decided to go into business on his own account.
At this time he became involved in the Modern Architectural Research Group, one of a number of initiatives which hoped to promote Modernism in Britain, but undoubtedly the most successful as it was able to capitalise on desjgn influx of designers and architects who were leaving Nazi Germany and towh to work in London. As an enthusiastic Modernist, the principles adopted by MARS would have a profound effect on his early career. He also travels in Europe and studies classical and modern examples of urban design which influence his ideas on town design and placemaking.
Harlow Master Plan
In he comes to the attention of a developer who was looking for an innovative scheme for a substantial low cost private housing scheme comprising over flats on a site in Streatham. The client gives Gibberd a free hand in the design and it becomes the perfect opportunity to produce a pared-down modernist solution.
Despite taking time to obtain the necessary consents the scheme is a great success. Known as Pullman Court, it is planned as a series of blocks to retain as many of the mature trees on the site and provides flats of varying sizes to suit the demand for homes for young professional people; on-site amenities include a swimming pool, restaurant, social club and roof gardens.
The site is one of several originally developed to help finance the re-erection of the Great Exhibition building and was occupied by a substantial villa, called Belvedere. This is acquired by a developer who commissions Gibberd to design Park Court, a series of apartment buildings to replace the original house, while retaining its mature trees. The simple blocks of rendered brickwork and steel windows are efficiently planned and arranged to segregate public and private spaces.
The three-story blocks are later restored after war damage to their original condition but are subsequently extended by others with the addition of an incongruous mansard roof. Completion of the redevelopment of the site of a Victorian villa in the hinterland of the High Street in Southgate, North London and known as Ellington Court. The scheme provides 40 flats in a bold modernist style in contrast to the other neo-Georgian developments of the time. At the insistence of the local authority the blocks are executed in brickwork, and bizarrely insists that all drainage is run externally.
The elevations are articulated by horizontal and vertical brick patterning with the vertical circulation elements expressed as tall stair towers. The interior design of the flats is also by Frederick Gibberd and the layout include large sliding doors to give greater flexibility to the internal floor plans. Architectural competitions are an important source of work for Gibberd and will remain so throughout his career.
The winning design for a new Nurses Home at the Macclesfield General Hospital in Cheshire becomes the last major commission for the practice before the outbreak of World War Two.
The accommodation provides bedrooms for nurses and day rooms for social events. The three storey block in framed construction with plain brickwork, steel windows and concrete detailing, foreshadows the style which would later characterise much of post-war building in Britain. Due to a history of chronic kidney infection, Frederick Gibberd is declared unfit for military service and the practice closes down for the duration of the Second World War.
During the early part of the war he is employed in the Air Raid Precautions department of the Borough of Hampstead where his knowledge of reinforced concrete construction proves to be an asset.
Whilst there he is engaged in surveying frexerick in frdeerick borough and strengthening the basements of many buildings to form shelters.
Public surface shelters are also planned at street level in preparation for the anticipated air raids which commence in the summer, culminating in the Blitz on the City of London later in the year. During the War the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London is evacuated to Mount House in the suburb of Barnet, and the numbers drastically scaled-down. Frederick Gibberd is appointed as a Studio Master and fredrrick becomes its Principal. Under his tutelage are Hidalgo Jacko Moya and Philip Powell, a talented pair of young students who would both later work for Gibberd before launching their own practice after winning the Churchill Fredegick competition in Pimlico.
Like many architects and student, he develops a particular interest in hown planning which gains momentum with the progress of the war. Whilst at the Architectural Association, Gibberd takes the opportunity to enter himself for the examination for the Town Planning Institute, successfully becoming a member. Many years later, inhe would receive the Gold Medal from the Institute for his achievements in town planning and urban design. The morale-boosting open air exhibition involving over 23, items from tanks to shoelaces graphically illustrates the resources that are needed to successfully prosecute the war.
The exhibition runs for two months before transferring to Birmingham and Cardiff the following year. Following the Blitz on London the Dseign Institute of Frederic Architects establishes a reconstruction committee in to consider how the city should be rebuilt.
He experiments with concepts such as ‘landscape wedges’ to bring green spaces into urban areas – something which would influence his later planning schemes. Frederick Gibberd is appointed as masterplanner for the site and for the fredeirck of the central terminal buildings then envisaged as a maximum of three and the various ancillary spaces such as car parks, cargo terminals and baggage handling facilities.
The work at Heathrow Airport will continue for the rest of his time in practice as the temporary buildings are replaced frederifk permanent structures, rail connections built and innovations such as gaterooms added to keep pace with the development of the aviation industry and the boom in commercial travel and package holidays. Whilst the BISF design is purposely conservative in appearance, its construction is a highly innovative and represents an efficient response to the challenge of providing good quality housing quickly.
Unlike many other types it is intended to last up to 60 years and 36, units are erected.
Harlow Master Plan
It is testament to the quality of the BISF houses that many last well into the 21st century, significantly exceeding their original design lifespan. The majority of these are sited outside the green belt around London. Frederick Gibberd is appointed for the development of Harlow in Essex with a remit to accommodate 60, inhabitants. He takes up residence in the existing Harlow village, cycling around the site of the new town whilst formulating his plans.
He will remain in Harlow for the rest of his life. He opens a second office in the town which supervises the implementation of the various phases of development over the next four decades. Gibberd completely reorganises the development to create a variety of forms and building types with human-scaled spaces between, and carries out the design of the initial phases as exemplars. He goes on to plan and design several estates in Hackney including the award-winning Somerford Grove development and the Rectory Road estate.
Following involvement with the BISF Prefabricated House project, Frederick Gibberd is commissioned by the Appleby Frodingham Company to rebuild their steel rolling mills in Lincolnshire, as well as providing new ancillary accommodation such as the drawing office, and power plant. The mills are required to remain in production throughout and the new envelope of steel construction is designed to be erected around it. The project is the start of a long association with the firm and its successors, and the design of a number of industrial plants for a variety of public and private clients including Imperial Chemical Industries ICIWhitbread Breweries and the Ministry of Works.
Originally intended to be four storeys higher, it is planned as a vertical ‘marker’ to indicate the entrance to the town from the nearby major approach road, but the Housing Ministry limits it to ten floors.
The tower includes one bedroom flats and bedsitting rooms arranged around a central core, with balconies on the radiating arms, and is specifically designed for people without children; family housing is provided in adjoining low rise terraces with access to gardens.
The building is later listed as an example of the best of British housing design, and wins numerous awards including the Ministry of Health Housing medal, and a Festival of Britain Award. Gibberd faces considerable bureaucracy and had hoped for a site nearer to the main exhibition, but has to settle for a more remote site in Poplar already being developed by the London County Council.
A talented team of leading architects, engineers and landscape designers is assembled to successfully launch the exhibition on time in what is now part of the Lansbury Estate in Tower Hamlets, London. In addition to preparing the original masterplan for Harlow the practice updates the plan periodically.
The market is developed over the next decade and includes a public house The Painted Lady one of several themed on butterflies throughout the town, a post office and a bank, and the market office building with its distinctive Festival-style clock commemorating Eric Adams the Development Corporation’s first general manager.
As with the rest of the town which has works by Henry Moore and Elisabeth Frink, there is a generous provision of public art, notably Ralph Brown’s sculpture ‘The Meat Porters’ which is installed in Throughout his career Gibberd wrote extensively about his ideas and designs and produced many successful publications. One of his first books was surprisingly for a modernist a history of architecture: He prepares monographs on many of his completed projects including the masterplan for Harlow.
One of the first office buildings to be built following the lifting of the post-war austerity office building restrictions in is Albert Embankment – designed for the National Dock Labour Board as their Headquarters in London. It is faced with reconstructed Portland stone with structural mullions in pre-cast concrete framing the ubiquitous Crittal steel windows of the period. Gibberd is made a Commander of the British Empire for his services to Architecture.
By a significant portion of the permanent Central Terminal Area of Heathrow Airport has been completed, transferring operations from the prefabricated perimeter buildings to the main core area, and the access tunnel from the Bath Road is finally complete.
Originally planned for a maximum of 1. Frederick Gibberd purchased a property in Marsh Lane, Harlow when he took on the commission for designing the new town. The house itself is of little merit: The garden remains a work-in-progress for the next 30 years and various elements salvaged from his commissions would find their way into the scheme, including boulders from the Lyn Celyn Reservoir, columns from the demolished parts of Coutts Bank in London, as well some 80 sculptures from leading artists, many personal friends.
Several years after his death, and after some neglect, the Gibberd Garden is restored. The garden and house are later placed in the care of a Trust and are now open to the public. With the expansion in education the practice becomes involved with a number of higher and further education commissions including works in Huddersfield and later at Hull. Frederick Gibberd is appointed consultant for the design of the Civic Centre in St Albans, one of a number of municipal schemes he is to carry out in key locations.
The most successful building of the Council group, the Civic Hall later renamed the Alban Arena is designed by Gibberd in a restrained modern movement style: The corners are glazed to reveal the structural form, with internal corner columns visible within – around which rise the staircases in an elegantly simple manner.
Unfortunately, later additions fail to respect the symmetry of the original conception.
Frederick Gibberd becomes involved in the design of several research facilities including laboratories for Shell at Thornton Heath where he designs the main buildings. At Sittingbourne in Kent he plans the future development of the Shell Agro-Chemicals Research Centre at Woodstock Farm and continues to design facilities for the company, which includes numerous technical buildings as well as sports and welfare accommodation, until its closure in Construction work begins on the new Ulster Hospital.
The practice is appointed to plan the new site at Dundonald, which is needed to replace the city centre bibberd hospital that was badly damaged in the Belfast Blitz of Whilst the hospital is in temporary premises, an exhaustive series of briefing meetings takes place with the clinical teams in order to ensure that freverick requirements are incorporated in the scheme. Planned for a maximum of beds, the hospital is described at the time as a model of functional excellence and distinctive beauty, planned not only for the present but to meet future needs.
The Oceanic Terminal becomes the second major terminal structure to be erected at Heathrow and is planned to handle arrivals giberd departures to long haul destinations integrated within the same building. At this time the airport had a direct helicopter service to Central London and a helipad is included on the roof. Renamed Terminal 3, it goes on to handle more gibberx 15 million passengers annually, exceeding all original forecasts. The eight-storey concrete-framed building with its distinctive skyline addresses the open space and terminates the vista from the gardens; behind this block various studios with north light roofs are subsequently erected.
The building now accommodates the principle activities of what has become the largest Further Education College in the country. After purchasing the site, the community eventually looks at redeveloping the site and appoints Frederick Gibberd to prepare the masterplan for Douai Abbey which is adopted on the Diamond Jubilee of its English foundation. He designs functional monastic blocks centered around the, then partially built, abbey church, which was to be completed some thirty years later by ecclesiastical architect Michael Blee.
The practice develops a long-standing association with Taylor Woodrow for the design of a number of coastal power generating stations.
In the early s it is commissioned for the architectural and landscape design of Didcot Power Station, a coal and oil-fired plant at Sutton Courtenay then in Berkshire. The scheme comprises six distinctively shaped hyperboloid cooling towers disposed about the main turbine halls and a fredrick chimney, one of the tallest structures in the UK.
It is decommissioned 50 year later. The practice is involved in the architectural and landscape design for a number of reservoirs including Kielder Water in Northumberland – the largest man-made lake in the largest man-made forest in Europe. One of the earliest – and most controversial – is Llyn Celyn Reservoir which is completed in This is ordered without local consultation by Act of Parliament and is built to supply the City of Liverpool and the Wirral Peninsula.