28th April 2022

Celebrating 75 Years – 1950s Case Study

As we proceed with 75th Anniversary celebrations, we’re continuing our case study series. Next up, it’s the 1950s and a project undertaken by our founder, Reginald Thomason in Curacao!

In 1949 Reginald Thomason, along with his Chief Designer Edward Beckwith, was commissioned to design a laboratory building for the Royal Dutch Oil Company (subsequently Shell) on the island of Curacao. The work was part of the expansion of the Venezuelan oil industry which used nearby Curacao, with a natural deep-water harbour, for tankers. The architects were White and Travis, a firm with close relations to R H Thomason.

The structure comprised steel rivetted trusses supported by beams and columns. It was made in London and shipped out to Curacao for erection in 1950. The building was finished in blockwork with a corrugated iron roof.

The black and white photograph was taken during construction and shows a straw hatted worker in the foreground fixing a reinforcing cage. The second picture was taken in 2017 when one of our former managing partners visited Curacao. He was only allowed to photograph the building from the entrance barrier but subsequently managed to contact a representative of the refinery, who emailed photographs. The two photographs were taken from virtually the same viewpoint, 67 years apart.

It is a testament to those involved in the design that it has withstood the test of time, just requiring a replacement of the corrugated iron roofing and the walls to be redecorated in 2017.