Arup In Wonderland – Durham

The last structure that Ove Arup designed himself was the award-winning reinforced concrete Kingsgate Footbridge in Durham, England.

Completed in 1963, Arup considered this bridge his finest work. He planned every detail, including the unusual way it was constructed. The need for scaffolding on the river was eliminated by casting the bridge in two halves, one for each bank. The halves were then swivelled out from the banks to meet. 

The two halves pivoted on revolving cones, their meeting point marked by an understated bronze expansion joint. Bearings were designed at the base of each part to allow rotation, robust but cheap enough to be used only once. 

This elegant example of simple mechanical engineering provided tense moments for the team while the spans were turned and connected. 

John Martin, project manager for the bridge, said:

“Ove never seemed to worry that anything might go wrong. That was fine, it just meant that one felt fully responsible for seeing that it didn’t. But he got quite cross when the contractor took a few, to Ove’s view unnecessary, steps to make doubly sure that construction went smoothly. I think that to him it was a question of spoiling the elegance of the idea”.

arup.com

I’m ever so fond of concrete footbridges, in fact I have written about our local exemplar.

And have taken great pleasure in teaching and preaching whilst atop such.

So it was with some degree of excited anticipation, that I strode eagerly toward Ove’s bridge – a bridge guaranteed to raise a smile, enchanted by its elegance and audacity.

Over we go headlong and fancy free into this black and white concrete world.

Crossing over into colourful off-white world of university life.

Dunelm House was designed by Richard Raines and Michael Powers of the Architects Co-Partnership, and completed in 1966 under the supervision of architect Sir Ove Arup, whose adjacent Kingsgate Bridge opened two years earlier. Built into the steeply sloping bank of the River Wear, Dunelm House is notable internally for the fact that the main staircase linking all five levels of the building runs in an entirely straight line. This was intended by the building’s architects to create the feeling of an interior street.

Wikipedia

In 1968 Dunelm House won a Civic Trust award. Sir Nikolaus Pevsner considered the building:

Brutalist by tradition but not brutal to the landscape, the elements, though bold, are sensitively composed. 

Durham City Council’s Local Plan notes that the powerful building, together with Kingsgate Bridge.

Provides an exhilarating pedestrian route out into open space over the river gorge.

Public views were divided from the start, with a local newspaper in 1966 reporting views ranging from:

The third best looking building in the city to a – monstrosity. 

The Observer in 2017 reported that students called it:

That ugly concrete building.

I was delighted to hear that the Student Union building’s first musical performance was given by Thelonius Monk.

Let’s have a look at that ugly building.

With the city’s least ugliest building in view.

Of special interest to all lovers of substations and shelters is the neat little substation and shelter mash-up over the road.

The University of Nottingham

The Main Campus based on Jesse Boot’s Highfield parkland incorporating Lenton House and Lenton Hall. Boot along with his architect Percy Morley Holder developed a building scheme in 1921, achieving university status in 1948.

DH Lawrence Pavilion architect Marsh & Grochowski 1998-2001

Portland BuildingT Cecil Howitt 1949 -56

Trent Building architect: P Morley Horder 1922-28

Portland Building extended in 2001-3 architects: Michael Hopkins & Partners

Further additions to the rear 2013

The New Theatre was established in 1969, and was originally housed in the Archaeology and Classics building of the University of Nottingham. In 2001 an extended foyer was added to the building, following a donation from an alumnus of the university.

The summer of 2012 saw an extensive redevelopment of the building housing the New Theatre. The former Archaeology and Classics building was demolished from the site; leaving the New Theatre as a freestanding building. Parts of the old building were retained and repurposed as new rehearsal rooms, and a studio space; as well as a significant remodelling of the dressing room, and extending the foyer.

Architects: Maber

University Library architects: Faulkner Brown, Henry, Watkinson & Stonor 1971-73

The collection of buildings in University Park Campus, colloquially known as Science City, was first masterplanned by Basil Spence in 1959. His vision was largely realised by Renton Howard Wood Associates during the 1960s. Since then, numerous additions and alterations have been made to suit the ever increasing student numbers and the changing needs of the University.

Sir Clive Granger Building

A view over the Science Buildings by Basil Spence 1955 and partner Andrew Renton 1961 onward.

Mathematical Sciences 2012 William Saunders

George Green Library by Hopkins Architects 2017

The University of Nottingham needed to double the size of its existing academic library to cater for an expansion in serious scientific study. Hopkins Architects faced the difficult task of doubling the size of a rather unremarkable 1960’s building – designed by Basil Spence, on a tight sloping site.

Architecture.com

Pope Building leading to the Engineering Science Learning Centre by Hopkins Architects 2011

Chemistry Department

Coates Building by Basil Spence

Tower Building by Andrew Renton 1963-65

Refurbishment work is taking place to develop flexible workspaces, including offices, conference and meeting rooms, while the building will also accommodate hospitality and events rooms. The university also plans to include a restaurant, coffee bar, a deli-shop and a top-floor sky lounge.

West Bridgford Wire

Jubilee Campus

Jubilee Campus is a modern purpose-built campus which now extends to 65 acres and is located only one mile from University Park. The initial phase was opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 1999. The state-of-the-art facilities now include:

  • The Schools of Education – including CELE and Computer Science
  • The Nottingham University Business School
  • The National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services 
  • Sports Centre
  • University of Nottingham Innovation Park
  • 4000 third party purpose-built student residences within half a mile radius of the campus

Central to the development of the site has been the setting of high BREEAM Standards – an holistic approach to achieve ESG, health, and net zero goals. ​It is owned by BRE – a profit-for-purpose organisation with over 100 years of building science and research background.

Built on the former site of the immense Number 3 Raleigh Bicycle Factory – which was opened by Field Marshal Lord Montgomery in 1957.

At its peak in the 1950s, Raleigh employed 7000 people on a 40 acre site that covered most of Lenton Boulevard, Triumph Road and Orston Drive.

In May 1999, Raleigh announced that it was to cease volume production of frames in the UK. The frame welding robots, installed in 1996, were auctioned off in December 1999.

Bikebiz

Alan Oakley – who designed the Raleigh Chopper

Famously home to Alan Sillitoe/Arthur Seaton/Albert Finney in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

Advanced Manufacturing Building by Bond Bryan Architects 2018

University of Nottingham RAD Building 2017 Lewis & Hickey Ltd

Enjoying a prime location on the University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Campus, the building provides a number of multidisciplinary and specifically designed laboratory spaces, as well as high quality single and multiple occupancy offices, technical support bases and breakout spaces.

RIBA

Jubilee Conference Centre 2008 Hopkins Architects

Set within 65 acres of lakeside grounds, close to Nottingham city centre, The Jubilee hotel & conferences offers an innovative setting for events, along with all the comforts of a modern hotel.

If you are looking for sustainable venue hire, look no further. With a range of meetings spaces, breakout areas and bedrooms; The Jubilee is perfect for event and conferences organisers looking for a light, airy and relaxing setting.

GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratory 2014 by Fairhursts Design Group

Designed to minimise the impact on the environment of its construction and operation. The design of the building is made up of modules manufactured off-site. The building support pillars and trusses are made from a combination of German spruce, Austrian Spruce, and American red cedar.

The designers used computational fluid dynamics to design the curved roof. This enables ventilation of the building by taking advantage of the prevailing wind. One of the laboratories is also ventilated in this way, to determine the viability of doing so elsewhere. The building also features a green roof, and solar panels that cover 45 per cent of the roof area and provide up to 230.9 kW. The four towers on the roof hide the building’s plant equipment. Additionally, a 125-kilowatt biofuel combined heat and power system was built on-site, providing the majority of heat needed for the buildings.

Wikipedia

Ingenuity Centre by Bond Bryan 2017

Alucraft designed fabricated and delivered the façade,

At first glance the centre appears to be a hi-tech structure that would not look out of place in a sci-fi movie, with a complex array of metal fins forming a metallic bronze-coloured circular envelope that seems to float around a central core.

Keep looking though and some of the design cues are clearly industrial – the metallic external envelope echoing the form of some finely machined, mechanical component or even the patterned tread of a tyre.

Building Construction Design

Romax Technology Centre by Tomlinson 2015

Aerospace Technology Building by William Saunders 2012

Sir Colin Campbell Building by Bond Bryan 2011 – with Arup acting as structural and services engineer.

Si Yuan Centre of Contemporary Chinese Studies

Xu Yafen Building and Yang Fujia Building by MAKE 2008

Aspire is a 60-metre tall, red and orange steel sculpture by Ken Shuttleworth of MAKE, and was, until overtaken by Anish Kapoor’s Orbit, the tallest free standing public work of art in the United Kingdom. It is taller than  Nelson’s Column, the Angel of the North, and the Statue of Liberty  

The name Aspire was chosen after a competition to name the sculpture, which was open to staff and students at the university.

The Nottingham Geospatial Building by Maber Architects 2010

Energy Technologies Building by Maber Architects 2018

A showcase £6.5m research centre, which brings together world-class experts in energy research, has chosen ALUCOBOND® A2 from 3A Composites GmbH, finished in Sakura 917 from its spectra colour series for its cladding.

Institute of Mental Health by BENOY 2012

The House for a Gordian Knot by Ekkehard Altenburger

Business School South

Dearing Building

Computer Science Building

The Exchange Building

The Sir Harry and Lady Djanogly LRC architect Sir Michael Hopkins 1999

A single floor spirals up through the building in the manner of FL Wright’s Guggenheim Museum

The library was named after the philanthropists Sir Harry and Lady Djanogly who gave a significant contribution towards the cost of its construction. Sir Harry Djanogly is the father of Jonathan Djanogly, who became MP for Huntingdon in 2001.

Wikipedia

Business School North 2003

The Atrium

John Player & Sons Bonded Warehouse by William Cowlin and Son 1938-39

Mouchel System concrete construction.

Mouchel’s involvement with the iron industry, and his ties with France, brought him into close proximity with the French engineer François Hennebique (1842-1921), who had been a contractor in Brussels. A self-educated builder, Hennebique had patented an idea of strengthening concrete using iron and steel bars – a forerunner to the widespread modern reinforced-concrete method used in construction today.

Engineering timelines

Sadly – returning in September the last building had been recently demolished.

Many thanks to Elain Harwood from whose Pevsner Guide much of the information was garnered

BISF Prefabs Wadsworth Lane – Hebden Bridge

Wadsworth Lane Hebden Bridge HX7 8DL

Calderdale is awash with non-traditional housing as can be seen on this site:

Non-traditional housing in Calderdale

The Second World War brought an even greater demand for the rapid construction of new dwellings. In addition to the need to rebuild homes damaged as a result of the war, the Government had other objectives that were set out in a white paper in 1945, to provide a separate dwelling for any family who wanted one and to complete the slum clearance programme started before the war. After the Second World War there was a surplus of steel and aluminium production, and an industry in need of diversification. These factors drove the move towards the use of prefabrication, as a result many new varieties of concrete, timber framed and steel framed systems emerged. Whilst most systems were intended to provide permanent or long-term housing a few were intended only as emergency or temporary solutions.

The homes on Wadsworth Lane are BISF Type A1 – designed by architect Frederick Gibberd and engineer Donovan Lee.

Manufactured by British Iron & Steel Federation and British Steel Homes Ltd.

Over 34,000 three-bedroom semi-detached houses and 1048 terraced houses were erected across England, Scotland and Wales.

Northolt

Non Standard House

We have encountered the very same houses in Tin Town Wythenshawe

I walked up Wadsworth Lane in 2021.

I walked past again in 2022 – the home appear to be in good health, many improved or extended, yet retaining at least a little of their heritage.

They are lived in and loved.

Boots – Nottingham

I boarded the 49 bus to Boots.

I alighted from the 49 bus at Boots and proceeded to take a look around.

Unsurprisingly the construction work was now complete.

The pharmaceutical factory for the Boots Company was built in the 1930s and was designed by Sir E Owen Williams. It uses reinforced concrete as an external frame. The strength of the frame allowed the design to incorporate large areas of glass.

Much of the site is now listed.

Here is the company’s official history

Photograph taken December 1994 © Copyright Crown copyright

D10 Wets Building

D6 Dry Building

D34 Fire Station – now offices.

At this point I was asked to leave the site – having arrived on a public service bus, I was unaware that this was a restricted area.

This was explained to me by the ever so helpful security staff.

I made my excuses and left.

D90Skidmore Owings & Merrill and Yorke Rosenberg & Mardell 1967-69

Dollan Aqua Centre – East Kilbride

Designed by Alexander Buchanan Campbell and named after former Lord Provost Sir Patrick Dollan, it was opened in 1968 as Scotland’s first 50 metre  swimming pool.

It consists principally of pre-stressed concrete and imitates a colossal marquee – the vaulted 324 ft parabolic arched roof appears to be held down by pairs of v-shaped struts that meet the ground at a thirty degree angle.

Buchanan Campbell admitted that he had been influenced by the architecture of the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan and the designs by Kenzo Tange for the gymnasium there.

Also inspired by Pier Luigi Nervi’s Olympic Complex in Rome.

In 1993, the international conservation organisation Docomomo International listed Dollan Baths as one of sixty key monuments in Scottish post-war architecture.

It was listed in 2002 as a Category A building by Historic Environment Scotland.

Wikipedia

RIBA PIX

The Dollan’s wet recreation facilities include South Lanarkshire’s only 50m swimming pool and SLLC’s most exclusive health suite facility which features a sauna, steam room, sanarium, spa pool and relaxation area.

If you prefer dry recreation facilities then look no further as the Dollan features two gyms. The first is a traditional gym with the latest Life Fitness cardio and HUR compressed-air resistance equipment.

To complement these fantastic facilities there are two fitness studios that play host to a diverse range of fitness and mind, body and soul classes as well as a morning creche.

South Lanarkshire Leisure

Sadly, I am neither a water babe nor gym bunny – body, soul and mindfulness are maintained in perfect harmony solely by means of modern mooching.

I walked around, I took a look.

Structural engineering surveys showed that parts of the pool surround and pool tank were in a state of near collapse and emergency work had to be carried out to install temporary structural supports. The centre was closed in October 2008 for major refurbishment, consisting of structural repairs and replacements and the installation of new structural supports. This required a significant amount of structural engineering design input. The structure of the unique roof was not affected.

Substantial redesign and replacement of heating and ventilation and pool water treatment engineering services was carried out. This included new high-efficiency gas-fired boilers, a ventilation system for the swimming pool hall, a combined heat and power system, new water filters, and high-efficiency pumps as part of an upgraded pool water treatment system.

Electrical engineering and lighting systems were almost entirely replaced throughout the building. The external roof covering was replaced and an additional layer of thermal insulation was added to reduce heat loss from the roof and to provide extra protection for the roof structure. New lockers were provided for the changing rooms and the health suite. New tiles were placed for the pool and health suite. The repair work began in July 2009 and the Aqua Centre re-opened on 28 May 2011. The completion of the major repair and refurbishment contract cost over £9 million.

Would that more buildings were saved from the demolition derby.

The wrecking ball has always been the great symbol of urban progress, going hand in hand with dynamite and dust clouds as the politicians’ favourite way of showing they are getting things done. But what if we stopping knocking things down? What if every existing building had to be preserved, adapted and reused, and new buildings could only use what materials were already available? Could we continue to make and remake our cities out of what is already there?

The Guardian

St Mungo’s Church – Cumbernauld

4 St Mungo’s Rd Cumbernauld Glasgow G67 1QP

Architect: Alan Reiach 1963-1964.

Single storey, square-plan pyramidal church with halls adjoining to SW.

Category B Listed

St Mungo’s Parish Church is a striking landmark in the centre of Cumbernauld. Prominently sited on the top of a small hill, the bold copper pyramidal roof is an important landmark. Alan Reiach designed two churches in Cumbernauld, both of which can accommodate 800, Kildrum Church – the earlier of the two. Alan Reiach 1910-1992, who was apprenticed to Sir Robert Lorimer 1864-1929, was primarily involved in the design of public buildings, including churches, schools, universities and hospitals. Noteworthy features of St Mungo’s Parish Church include the bold pyramidal roof, with apex of which forms a roof light lighting the nave of the church, and above this is a pyramidal belfry. The impressive Baltic redwood-lined interior gains natural light from the large central rooflight and clerestory windows.

Historic Environment Scotland

Sadly it no longer has a copper roof following work undertaken by LBG Waterston.

Thank you ever so much to to the members of the church who kindly allowed me to photograph the interior, prior to their Sunday service.

BT Building – Stoke on Trent

Lytton Street Stoke on Trent Staffordshire

Almost not quite in the shadow of nearby neighbour the Hanley Tower, this little gem sits tucked away by the side of Queensway, minding its very own business.

The business of telecommunications.

Just a short walk from the railway station let’s take a look.

Tin Town – Wythenshawe

Prior to the end of WWII, the British Iron & Steel Federation worked closely with Architect Frederick Gibberd & Engineer Donovan Lee, to develop several steel framed prototype houses and flats, which could be erected quickly and efficiently with limited use of skilled labour.

Frederick Gibberd

These prototype were duly named BISF which is a acronym of the originating  sponsor, The British Iron & Steel Federation.

However, it was in fact the newly formed company, British Steel Houses Ltd, that went on to develop and manufacturer the BISF houses we see today.

Over 34,000 three-bedroom semi-detached houses and 1048 Terraced Houses were erected across England, Scotland and Wales.

Non Standard House

The final production design incorporated rendered mesh ground floor walls and the now familiar, profiled steel sheeting panels affixed to the upper storey. The preferred roofing material was generally corrugated asbestos cement, or corrugated metal sheeting.

The frame of the prototype ‘B’ house was of the same general design as the type ‘A’ frame, but fabricated from flat light steel sections.

Northolt

The roof trusses were also of light steel sections and the roof cladding was the same as that used in the type A house. 
Both prototypes had been designed to accept a variety of external wall materials, including traditional brick masonry if desired.

The external steel cladding that was affixed to the upper storey of the original BISF house appears visually similar to the external cladding that was used during the production of the unrelated Hawksley BL8 temporary bungalow.

This visual similarity caused many people to wrongly assume that the BISF House was a semi-detached version of the temporary bungalow, despite the fact that the BISF House was built as a permanent dwelling.

The vast majority of BISF houses were built as two-storey semi-detached pairs. A smaller number of terraced houses were also built by replicating the standard semi-detached frame.

A number of variations relating to the layout and materials used in the construction of this house have been noted, but in all cases, the original construction, design & construction of the steel framework, remains largely as described.

The area in Wythenshawe where the BISF houses were built, is known locally and colloquially as Tin Town.

Here are the homes in 1955.

Here are the homes in 1972.

JF Hughes Local Image Collection

In 2012 we visited the home of former Durutti Column drummer Bruce Mitchell.

Bruce in Greater Mancunians.

Owen Hatherley wrote about this White Bus Tour in The Guardian – at the behest of Richard Hector-Jones.

New residents were given the choice of an apple or cherry tree for their back gardens.

Here are the photographs I took in November 2021.

Stoke Launderette

I was walking away from the town centre along London Road, killing time.

It was the day of the Modernist’s Stoke Walk, I was as ever early for my assignment.

So following my pie, chips, peas and gravy at Jay’s Café I took a look along the way.

Arrested by the fascia of the Launderette I took a snap, moved on.

Returning minutes later, having crossed over the road, I went in.

Here’s what I found.

Several lost socks later I left.

For more wishy-washy fun search launderette right here on Modern Mooch!

BT Hanley Tower

You’re nobody ’til somebody loves you,
You’re nobody ’til somebody cares.
You may be king, you may possess the world and it’s gold,
But gold won’t bring you happiness when you’re growing old.

Hanley GSC represents a major telecommunication facility for BT and is positioned within the City boundaries of Stoke-on-Trent, on a very congested site.

The building fabric was starting to degrade and in need of structural refurbishment.

Works comprised of cleaning down the externals by high pressure water jetting, carrying out concrete repairs, applying an anti-carbonation coating, anti-corrosion treatments, painting the windows and applying sealants to windows and various joints around the structure.

All work was carried out whilst the exchange was fully manned and operational.

Works were carried outover a 26 week period, utilising mast climbers around the structure, with a limited amount of scaffolding on the low level structures.

Contract value £580,000

Makers.

Derided locally as an eyesore, currently the tallest building in town following the demolition of Unity House.

It has an antecedent as an immediate neighbour.

Former telephone exchange and offices – circa 1900.

Brick and terracotta with plain tiled roof. Eclectic style, with main block of three storeys, and three 3 narrow bays with flanking towers, all vertical spaces elongated.

The Potteries

Let’s take a look at the young upstart.

Staffordshire University

Moments from Stoke Station lies the central campus.

Staffordshire University was founded in 1914 as a polytechnic intistution, and was officially given University Status on 16 June 1992. Our University is famous for its forward-thinking approach, and has become a figurehead for its vocational and academic teaching, innovative grasp of industry, and student employability.

Although our campus continues to expand to create dynamic opportunities, we are proud of our heritage in the great city of Stoke-on-Trent. Steeped in the history of ceramic manufacture and production, industry in Stoke-on-Trent has been fuelled by Staffordshire University for over 100 years.

The Flaxman Building 1970 was designed by City Architect Thomas Lovatt and built by the City Works Department – the last public works assignment before competitive tendering opened up public restrictions to private enterprise.

Named for to Wedgwood’s famous modeller the classical artist, John Flaxman RA 1755-1826. 

Fred Hughes

The Regional Film Theatre opened in College Road, on the premises of North Staffordshire Polytechnic now Staffordshire University in 1974.

The North Staffordshire Film Society moved there to screen films one evening a week, while the Film Theatre operated on three nights a week. 

 

Across the way is the assertive slab tower of the 1950’s Mellor Building with its curvy cantilevered porch cover.

Currently Pozzoni are undertaking posed refurbishment.

Out back is the wavy roofed Dwight Building.

Over the road the new build of the Cadman Studios 2016 ABW Architects.

Keele University Chapel

I got on the 25 bus in Hanley and remained seated on the top deck until I reached Keele.

The chapel was just over the way from the bus stop, behind some trees.

Multi-denominational university chapel. 1964-65 by G.G. Pace. Blue vitrified engineering bricks. Slated pitched roof to eaves. Two copper covered pyramidal roof lights to paired towers and two copper-covered dormers. Rectangular building with paired apses at one end and a gallery along one side, with vestries and entrance below. Main space designed to be flexible, with movable furniture and a hydraulic screen which can be lowered to make two smaller spaces. One of the apses is dedicated to Roman Catholic worship; the other is for Anglicans and Non-conformists.

Exterior is dominated by the paired apses, which rise to form a pair of towers, each with panels of vertical strip windows with square-headed lights of irregular length, separated by brick tracery. Similar windows in irregular patterns to the flanks, which are otherwise unmodelled, and to the asymmetrical gable end. Rectangular leaded lights. Square-headed entrance on flank with concrete beam over. Double timber doors, recessed. Projecting concrete gutter spouts, three to each flank. Interior of exposed pink brick and unpainted board-marked concrete. `Y’ shaped laminated timber uprights and trusses, supporting timber roof, partly with timber rafters with exposed boarding behind, and partly with white acoustic tiles, forming a decorative contrast to the timber panels. Patterned brick screen with exposed, unpainted board-marked concrete frame divides the space at the higher level up to the roof, and a hydraulic screen of rust-stained timber, decorated with a cross motif, can be lowered to complete the division. Two similar, but smaller screens can be lowered to close off the apses.

Below the gallery a brick and concrete wall with groups of vertical windows. Broad, light timber handrail/bookrest, to `chunky’ concrete balustrade. Concrete pulpit of organic form attached to left of the screen wall. Also part of the Pace scheme is the limed timber altar, lectern, priest’s chairs, benches and other furnishings and the altars and furnishings in the semi-circular chapels. Also original are the pendant light fittings in black-painted metal. Floor with panels of parquet and polished concrete flags. Liturgically unusual as a multi-denominational chapel of this period, this impressive building is a fine example of Pace’s work.

Historic England

I’m something of a George Pace fan having previously visited William Temple, Doncaster, Chadderton, Bradford and Sheffield.

I was made more than welcome by Niall from the Chaplaincy Team.

The Chapel is open to the public Monday – Saturday and for worship on Sundays.

Let’s take a look around the exterior.

Followed by a tour of the interior.

ill was kind enough to show me some original documents related to the Chapel.

Telephone Exchange Gateshead

Having formerly posted a post about the Hadrian TSC in Newcastle, it seemed only right to record it’s not too distant cousin across the Tyne.

Here we are at the confluence of main roads.

I wandered around circuitously, circumnavigating this fine building.

The attendant BT workers are as ever kind and helpful, many thanks.

Manors Car Park – Newcastle upon Tyne

Brims and Co. Limited

Manors Car Park’s distinctive form derives from the constraints of the train line to east which collided with the new Central East Motorway A167 M which dips beneath, shaping the car park between these constraints. The curvature of the concrete decks sweeps uniformally across the site, interrupted only by the circulation ramp. The car park was the first multi-story car park in Newcastle and marked the beginnings of Wilfred Burns car-centric plans for the modernisation of the city through the Central East Motorway Plan – 1963.

Burns plan aimed to increase the economic growth of the city through greater convenience for an emerging car owning populace and even went as far as to incentivised cars travel by offering limited free parking in the city centre.

Manors car park connected and accompanied by an equally dramatic and elongated pedestrian footbridge from Manors Train Station – today Manors Metro, touching the car park for access before swooping under Swan House on Pilgrim Street Roundabout. The bridge takes what feels like the longest imaginable route over the motorway, allowing pedestrians to bypass Northumberland high street and take in the theatrics of the swooping concrete forms and motorway traffic.

Something Concrete +Modern

Newcastle Libraries

In the early 1960s, under the leadership of T Dan Smith and his chief planning officer Wilf Burns, Newcastle city council undertook a comprehensive re-planning of the city centre that, had it been carried out to its full extent, would have led to the construction of underground motorways and a series of raised pedestrian decks running along Northumberland Street in the main shopping zone. The plan was that the new city would encircle the historical core, which would be preserved; meanwhile vast swathes of Georgian housing to the east would be razed. There were also plans for high-rise towers in the centre, only one of which was built.

The Guardian

This tendency in town planning was due in part to the publication of H. Alker Tripp’s book of 1942.

Along with Traffic in Towns an influential report and popular book on urban and transport planning policy published 25 November 1963 for the UK Ministry of Transport by a team headed by the architect, civil engineer and planner Colin Buchanan. The report warned of the potential damage caused by the motor car, while offering ways to mitigate it. It gave planners a set of policy blueprints to deal with its effects on the urban environment, including traffic containment and segregation, which could be balanced against urban redevelopment, new corridor and distribution roads and precincts.

These policies shaped the development of the urban landscape in the UK and some other countries for two or three decades. Unusually for a technical policy report, it was so much in demand that Penguin abridged it and republished it as a book in 1964.

Wikipedia

In a one man war against the segregation of traffic and pedestrian I often walk car parks, ramps and all.

Stockport Asda, Piccadilly Manchester, Merseyway, Heaton Lane, Hull, Red Rock, Grimsby, and Margate.

As a non-driving militant pedestrian I assert my right to go wherever I wish to – within reason.

Okay let’s go.

Hadrian TSC – BT Newcastle upon Tyne

Melboune Street

Land was acquired for this site in 1929 for the then General Post Office.

The first buildings are constructed in 1932 as General Stores, a Workshop and Garages.

BT Digital Archives

These were demolished in 1966 to make way for the present development.

The current building was phase one of eleven, which was to include a further twenty two storey building with a planned capacity of twenty four thousand people by 1980.

Building construction started in 1969 and was completed in 1972.

Final cost was £1,218,401.

My thanks to Sonna Lawrence BT employee, for his time and information.

There is little by way of background information online, save for this thread.

It’s officially The Hadrian Trunk Switching Centre and it is indeed owned by BT. It’s just a telephone exchange with a handful of staff. I only know this as I used to work for BT 150 customer service when ISDN was being rolled out 20 years ago and when there was a fault in the Newcastle area it was usually something going wrong in this building.

I’ve heard that it goes down as far as it goes up.

Someone has mentioned the basement which is legendary amongst the people who work there. Some say it’s a nuclear bunker, some say there’s a tunnel that goes to the other BT building in Carliol Square, others say there’s nothing down there.

The rumour always was that the central core was nuclear bomb proof so people in power could still make phonecalls and there is also a service tunnel going across to the CTE on the other side of the central motorway.

One online source suggests it may have been designed by the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works.

Mainstream Modern informs us that the design team was:

Thomas F Winterburn – Senior Architect MoPBW.

W Freeman – Senior Civil Engineer.

E.W. Hutchinson – Project Engineer.

Working as an architectural assistant in Colchester Borough Engineer’s Office in 1935, Winterburn was with the Ministry from the at least the mid-1950s, he is recorded as the Senior Architect for Norwich’s Post Office Sorting Office in 1955. He was also responsible for the now demolished Milburngate House in Durham that housed the Passport Office.

All that aside I took a look around outside, come along circumnavigate along with me.

Halifax Building Society HQ

Here we are again for we have been here before.

I was taking a band of merry Modernist Moochers around town, so I stopped to snap this BDP behemoth once again.

On a sunny September morn.

David Lees informs me:

Halifax Building Society HQ, designed by BDP in an a multi-consultant appointment. Bill Pearson, partner and lead designer, John Ellis, M & E partner, David Cowler, Industrial Designer for the conservatrieve document storage and recovery terminals.

Rod Morris, Graphic Designer designed the sculptural Corten air vents. Richard Saxon, Americanophile introduced the theory of the open plan office. The building has twin fourteen foot deep steel beams clear-spanning between the four corner stair towers, within the chamfered soffit, a floor that also houses all the plant rooms. Lower floor of curtain walled cladding is a one acre open plan beaurolandchaft office, based upon analysis of workflow, the first in the UK and the biggest order for Herman Miller action office furniture at the time.

The office ceiling is a development of BDP’s coffered ceiling creating diffuse, glare free light and massive sound deadening, needed in open plan. Yellow cylindrical air inlet terminals by David Cowler. There ended up being so many duct penetrations in the fourteen foot beams that Harry Halsall, the structural engineer, had to prop them centre span. To create strong columns that could be lost in the window walls he used solid square section forged steel. No holds barred on this building’s cost. Executives suits of offices on the top floor with lavish bespoke joinery have recessed landscaped courtyards.

The building sits on a vast chasm that is storage for physical title documents the society had to keep. Its roof is a crash slab that can take the full weight of the building above collapsing. Large vertical robot arms travel the racks to retrieve the documents that get delivered to the office floor by a conveyor system. Office terminals designed by David Cowler who went on to design the iconic Samsonite Suitcase.

Nobody thought about the groundwater effect when the concrete basement was built. Without the weight of the building on it, it floated eleven inches. Luckily when the water was pumped out it settled back down precisely.

BDP Manchester’s golden years.

I arrived fresh from Uni just as it was finished.

Thanks to David for the inside information, here’s what it looks like on the outside.