Motorists queuing to get out of the Aztec West Business Park during the afternoon peak certainly have plenty of time to take in their surroundings, but how many of them realise that they are crawling past an architectural gem recently given protected status by Historic England?
An office block at 210 to 290 Park Avenue, visible on the left of the internal roundabout when driving into the park from the A38, is one of 17 bold, playful, brightly coloured postmodern buildings of the late 1970s to 1990s to have recently been ‘listed’ by the public body.
Postmodern architecture emerged in the 1970s as a critical reaction to modernism. In Britain it was closely associated with the economic boom of the 1980s. After a period out of favour, the 2011 exhibition ‘Style and Subversion’ at the V&A marked a revival of interest in postmodernism.
The units at Aztec West, designed by the architects CZWG, have forecourts that follow the turning circle of a car, celebrating the form of transport that enabled the development of out-of-town workplaces. They lend the buildings a Hollywood glamour, accentuated by elements of Art Deco design such as the over-scaled building numbers used as canopies over the main doors (now removed, but soon to be replaced).
The buildings have high, continuous parapets that hide the mono-pitch roofs into the internal courtyards. Beneath the parapets, double-height windows give a sense of scale and grandeur, and act as classical columns around the building. The two-storey buildings have banded cladding of red and buff brick. Completed in 1987-1988, the commission represents a key project by CZWG that combines bold geometries, colours and traditional materials to dynamic effect.
Piers Gough of GZWG, who worked on the design of the Aztec West building, told BBC Radio Bristol he was “completely thrilled” to hear of the listing, describing it as a “wonderful accolade” and a “fantastic retrospective appreciation”.
Speaking about the 17 new listings, Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said
“Postmodern architecture brought fun and colour to our streets. These are scarce survivals of a really influential period of British architecture and these buildings deserve the protection that listing gives them.”
More information and related links:
- 1980s Buildings Officially Become Heritage (Historic England)
- Listing entry for 210, 220, 240, 250, 260 and 290 Park Avenue (Historic England)
Photo: Building 250 at the Aztec West Business Park, recently given grade 2 listed status by Historic England as a significant example of postmodern architecture.
This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on page 3). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.