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BLOG BEING UPDATED - TRY AGAIN LATER This blog records the controversial era of British architecture, 1960's Brutalism. Many Brutalist buildings have been demolished and many still are under threat

Friday 22 February 2013

Kingsway tunnel ventilation shafts

 The Kingsway tunnel ventilation shafts are two identical structures on the opposite sides of the Mersey which provide ventilation for the Kingsway road tunnel. They were completed in 1971 when the Kingsway tunnel was completed between Liverpool and Wallasey. The two towers dominate the riverfront of north Liverpool and Wallasey sited on the dock road and on the Wallasey promenade respectively. The buildings have a simple composition with a central tower/chimney with two air intakes on each side. The buildings are very utilitarian, being  strictly functional with striped back decoration. The buildings are mostly concrete with exposed concrete on the tower (or chimney) and white coloured concreted for the two air intakers. The base is built with a dark brick. Although the buildings may look very simple they actually have subtle curves on the tower and air intakers which are much more pleasing than straight edges. 

The towers were built by the civil engineering firm who built the Kingsway tunnel directly below each structure, Edmund Nuttall Limited (now known as BAM Nuttall Limited). The fact that they were built by engineers rather than architects means that the buildings cannot be contributed to a single architect or even set of architects, just to a anonymous set of engineers therefore there is not a name associated with the buildings other than that of the engineers. The two towers are unlisted  but unlikely to be threatened with demolition as they still carry out there original purpose and replacing them would be very expensive. 

Also on the Mersey are a set of earlier ventilation shafts completed in 1934 for the Queensway tunnel, the original road tunnel across the Mersey. These are a stark contrast to the Brutalist towers of the 1970's, those on the Liverpool front are faced in stone whilst those on the Birkenhead front are faced in a dark brick. The fact that the two new towers are similar and not completely different like the previous towers of the 1930's  demonstrates to my mind a more egalitarian partnership between the two sides of the river as they are treated equally (instead of the expensive stone for prosperous Liverpool and cheap brick for the less affluent birkenhead side). 


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