Norman Whicheloe (1927-2002)
Among his generation of architectural students of the late1940s, Norman Whicheloe (left) was a polymath, a gifted designer at every scale of project from neighbourhoods to typography and furniture. He was an inspiring teacher and mentor with great capability in managing people and organisations.
He was also a superb draughtsman and photographer.
Born in south London, his talent was spotted while studying at Beckenham Technical College, leading to a scholarship to the Architectural Association School. His course was interrupted by national service, during which he was an air frame fitter in the Fleet Air Arm.
He left the AA in 1951 and was awarded a postgraduate year of study at the Royal Danish Academy under Steen Eiler Rasmussen.Following experience with Design Research Unit (DRU) under Misha Black, he moved his family to Bristol and, in 1955, was joined by another AA graduate to form Whicheloe Macfarlane - styled as 'architects and industrial designers'.
This title reflected Norman's interest in hands-on craftsmanship, interior design and graphics. Of the many building types that brought recognition and awards to the practice, housing was an early preoccupation.Norman's many strengths were shown at their most effective while designing an urban regeneration scheme on brownfield land at High Kingsdown in Bristol (pictured). Working with the City Council and JT, the design and build developer, he initiated high-density housing that anticipated the policy of Lord Rogers'Urban Task Force by 30 years.
Upon Norman's death in December, the secretary of the High Kingsdown Residents Association wrote:
'Despite a constantly changing population, the sense of community engendered by the layout of the estate - with its lack of through traffic, its patios, gardens and its privacy - remains constant. It is a truly unique concept.'
Whicheloe Macfarlane grew into the dimension of a multidisciplinary practice in 1972 and became involved in joint ventures in West Africa.Norman retired in 1979 but continued to practice as an architectural photographer.