Contents | << Previous | Next >> Wells Coates : Architect and Designer


Wells Coates with model of Catamaran
Wells Coates with model of Catamaran
One of Wells Coates's most satisfying preoccupations was devising new solutions to design problems. He used his considerable analytical powers to this end. Engineering skill and a thoroughgoing understanding of structure also contributed to his success as a designer, as did his restlessness and his dissatisfaction with conventional solutions.
The photograph above shows Wells Coates with a model of his Wingsail Catamaran, a new kind of sailing boat. Coates, who loved ships and sailing, devoted an immense amount of energy to this idea. The 16-ft Catamaran was built and sailed on the Norfolk Broads, proving that it did go closer to the wind than a conventional rig. But Coates was not able to sell his ideas commercially. At this time (c. 1950) catamaran hulls were relatively unknown, whereas nowadays they are used for many types of sailing; since that time, too, aerodynamic principles have been used in sail design by numerous people. The Catamaran on the Norfolk Broads
The Catamaran on the Norfolk Broads

The garden side of 10 Palace Gate, Coates's last block of flats (1939).
The photograph clearly shows the meaning of Coates's term '3-2': two living rooms on one side of the building are equivalent in height to three rooms on the other side, making two flats vertically on three floors. Sections of the 3-2 plan used at 10 Palace Gate can be seen here. The 3-2 invention was in fact based on Coates's own flat at 18 Yeoman's Row (see SUCCESS); here,it was perfected and employed in a whole block.
'D-Handles': A Coates design first used in the Cresta shops. Simplicity plus utility. D-Handles
Other Coates inventions included an early scheme for industrialised housing called Room Unit Production and a scheme for a monorail system, 1954.