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Architect fact files - Bristol | Oporto

Bristol architects


Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born in 1806 in Portsmouth, England. He was the son of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel who fled to America from the French Revolution before coming to England in 1799, and like his father, Brunel became an architect and engineer. His life's work was to generate imaginative and confident designs for bridges, tunnels, railways, stations, and steamships, transforming Victorian transport and making travel much quicker and easier.

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Clifton Suspension Bridge

Brunel first came to Bristol in 1828, convalescing after an accident in tunnel construction under the Thames, and much of his work was carried out in Bristol. Learning of a competition to build a new bridge over the Avon, Brunel submitted four designs. The chosen one was Egyptian-influenced, although the eventual construction was shorn of some of the original embellishments, as they were too expensive. The Clifton Suspension Bridge was begun in July 1831, but was not completed until 1864, due to lack of funding. Unfortunately, Brunel had died by this time, but the bridge is a lasting testimony to his capabilities.

Brunel had more success during his lifetime with projects on Bristol's docks, including locks, the Underfall and a dredger to keep the harbour free of silt, and he planned and built the Great Western Railway, which was an important link between Bristol and London. Brunel is one of the most famous Englishmen of his time, and his creations such as the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the SS. Great Britain, and Temple Meads Station are still important Bristol landmarks today.


George Ferguson was born in 1947 in Winchester. He studied architecture at the University of Bristol. He became involved in local and national politics, being the first Liberal on Bristol City Council in the 70's and a parliamentary candidate for Bristol West in the 80's, but he eventually gave up party politics to pursue his architectural career.

Millennium Square
Millennium Square

In 1979, Ferguson founded his own practice, Acanthus Ferguson Mann, which is now one of Britain's leading regional architectural practices, and part of the national Acanthus network established in 1986. Work ranges from fine historic building projects for such clients as the National Trust and the restoration of John Wood's Palladian Prior Park Mansion in Bath, to cutting-edge contemporary design including the At-Bristol Millennium Project, which has transformed the Harbourside area of Bristol. He is founder of the Concept Planning Group, who planned the £90 million At-Bristol Millennium Project, which won the 2002 Civic Trust Special Design award.

Ferguson has received two Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) awards, and in 2003, Ferguson became president of the RIBA, a post that will last until summer 2005 and carries significant prestige. He is owner of the contemporary arts centre, the Tobacco Factory, in Bristol, which has made a major contribution to the regeneration of South Bristol, and is honorary architect to the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol.

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