Bristol office has just been joined by two new recruits; Neil Embleton and Willie Harbinson, formerly partners of ESHA Architects LLP of Bristol, a practice known for sensitive design within context and obtaining planning permission on challenging sites, both urban and rural. Neil and Willie have been working together in Bristol since the early 80’s, previously at Percy Thomas Partnership, and have strong connections in Bristol and the West Country. Their experience covers many fields but focusses particularly on residential design.
Bishopston Library, Bristol
Neil Embleton – Since qualifying in 1979, Neil has been a design architect with a passion for detail and presentation, including watercolour perspectives. He has designed a number of buildings in Bristol over the years. He was responsible for two major reworkings of council flats for Bristol City Council, including Orlebar Gardens where he totally remodelled the building. His Cumberland Yard project for Knightstone Housing Association was a redevelopment of a former warehouse site in the dockside area of Bristol, carefully designed to fit into the local context of Georgian street architecture. On the academic front, Neil was the project architect for New Synthetic Chemistry for the University of Bristol on the skyline of the city, completed just before the new millennium and providing state of the art research facilities.
His contemporary apartments and townhouses at Malvern House in Redland for Edward Ware Homes, reinterpret the villa concept in a modern idiom within the Redland Conservation Area. Neil won a RIBA Housing Design Award for a development of 17 houses for Westbury Homes on the site of a former farmyard in the heart of the conservation village of Ebrington in the N. Cotswolds.
More recently, Neil has done several schemes in Hampshire, including Whiteleys at Bordon, and has had the opportunity to design the new Library in his local area of Bishopston in Bristol, which finally opened after a long gestation in 2017, and which has been nominated for a Bristol Civic Society Design Award.
Willie Harbinson – Willie has long had an interest in the study of old buildings and site context which is reflected in a concern to make new buildings fit into and relate to their surroundings. A formative project in this respect was his three houses at Luccombe for the West Somerset Housing Association which won the National Building in the Countryside Award and a commendation from the Civic Trust in 1992 and led to Percy Thomas Partnership being appointed for the first phase of The Duchy of Cornwall’s development at Poundbury.
Willie’s later experience encompasses larger and more complex projects including new headquarters for Skipton Building Society and Wishaw General Hospital near Glasgow. His interest in old buildings and site context is particularly evident in the remodelling of Drake Barracks, Devonport, where existing buildings have been refurbished and new buildings inserted adjacent to Grade 1 and 11 listed 19th Century structures.
ESHA designed several projects for Edward Ware Homes including Willie’s new housing in Wotton-u-Edge. More recently he has carried out four care homes and a research facility for The Epilepsy Society in Chalfont St Peter and the design of Paintworks Phase IV, which will complete the regeneration of former industrial premises into a vibrant new residential and business quarter close to Bristol City Centre.