Christopher Powell (1941-2011)
Christopher Powell, who has died from a brain tumour aged 70, was a lecturer in architecture for more than 30 years.
Born and educated in south Gloucestershire, Chris followed his father's career and graduated in 1964 with a degree in architecture from Bristol University. He chose not to join the family practice and instead took a post at the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, then spent time with various agencies and practices, including Wilson and Womersley, working on housing developments in the south-east.
During this period, the historical and social dimensions of his subject became an increasing attraction. After completing a master's thesis on local authority housing in 1972, Chris moved into academia as a lecturer at the Welsh School of Architecture, in Cardiff. While there, he pursued new areas related to the economics of building and design. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Construction History Society and was for many years the joint editor of its journal. The strands of his research were brought together in the book An Economic History of the British Building Industry, 1815-1979. He also wrote a history of the Welsh School of Architecture, published in 2009.
Away from university life, Chris had many interests. A pile of books, often hefty biographies of artists, authors and politicians, was always to hand, and he delighted in sending amusing postcards and cartoons to family and friends. A keen cyclist, he completed several long distance jaunts around the country, most notably Land's End to John O'Groats, which was achieved not long after heart surgery.
Painting and drawing were passions which gave an effective expression of his familiarity with building styles and forms. This knowledge also came to the fore when travelling around the countryside in search of an isolated church, an unusual cottage or an old inn. In the last case, "Powell's law" on the age of pubs would lead to a declaration that at least 100 years should be deducted from any claimed age.
Whoever he was with, Chris was an ideas man who enjoyed nothing better than debating a new finding or piece of research in diverse fields from archaeology to politics.
He is survived by his wife, Pam, whom he married in 1963, and his daughter, Jo, and son, Alex.
- Mike Anson, on www.guardian.co.uk