Formerly Debenhams and more recently Habitat
It is very good news that the University has bought Beacon House, empty after Habitat closed, which will secure the future of this important and imposing building. The Society fully supports the University’s proposal to create its principal reception area behind the Queen’s Road shop front. The ground and first floors will be quiet areas for students to work individually and in groups. The University does not propose to alter the exterior of the building except to enlarge the upper windows in the Queen’s Avenue elevation to provide more light for the interior study space. The deco design in Bath Stone with high level ‘mezzanine’ windows in Critall glazing set in recessed panels above large metal framed display windows is coherent and well ordered.
The unity of the design, the sensitivity of the details and the quality of the materials stands as a critical witness against the bland banality of the ribbon fenestration of Embassy House and Howard House on the other side of the street. If there is no alternative than a radical revision of the deco elevation, the detail of the new design must be equal to that which it replaces. The development also brings the chance for the University, the Royal West of England Academy and the Council to develop a unified design to improve the street in front of Beacon House and the Academy.
The Society is delighted that this application now has planning permission.