Derwent Tower, Dunston


Derwent Tower, knick named the "Dunston Rocket" was a 29-storey apartment block and was a prominent landmark in Dunston, Gateshead. The tower was commisioned by Whickham Council and designed by the Owen Luder Partnership (who also designed Gateshead's "Get Carter car park"). Construction began in 1968, and the tower was opened in 1971. The building fell into disrepair and residents were relocated by Gateshead Council in 2007.[1] The building was demolished in 2012.

Derwent Tower (also known as the Dunston Rocket) was a 29-storey residential apartment building in Dunston, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom. Due to its unusual shape it was nicknamed the "Dunston Rocket" during construction (even before its official Derwent Tower title) and the name remained with locals throughout its life. It has now been demolished.

The tower was designed by the Owen Luder Partnership on behalf of Whickham Council, which controlled the Dunston area of Gateshead. The original brief was for three high-rise blocks of at least 22 storeys, but due to adverse ground conditions on site the decision was made to build one tower, with the rest being low-rise blocks of two to five storeys. Despite the architect's advice against construction of a high-rise building on the site, the council were strongly in favour. Following many consultations and explanatory models of the foundations with specialists, construction of the foundations began in February 1968, and the tower was completed in March 1971.

Construction was complex because of the very poor ground conditions. The foundations were based on a sunken concrete caisson that was built above ground then sunk over a period of time. Caisson foundations are often found in harbour construction; being used in the 1960s for a local authority tower block was a first, and the caisson became an underground garage area for residents.

The tower had a very bold and striking appearance, unlike any other tower block or high rise building in the UK. It was of a Brutalist design with lots of design similarities with Gateshead's "Get Carter car park" also a product of the Owen Luder Partnership. The tower housed two-bedroom flats up to the 10th floor, one-bedroom flats floors 11 to 29. It featured in a 1970s advert for Tudor Crips.

Unusual features were:

  • Height (280 feet)
  • Unusual construction methods
  • Plan form change between 10th and 11th floor to accommodate building services including two 10,000-gallon water tanks
  • Flying buttresses from the ground to 5th floor assisting the foundations
  • Unusual foundations including an underground spiral carpark (closed to residents for many years, due to repeated flooding.)
  • Brutalist form

Exposed elements of structure and services, i.e. flying buttresses from floor level and exposed water tanks.

The tower was in desperate need of refurbishment for many years, making it unpopular with residents and locals. It had been allowed to fall into a run-down state through neglect and lack of maintenance. Services breakdowns, lift failures, water supply faults were all common but were unlikely to be a result of the tower's design or construction methods. In 2007 Gateshead Council decided to relocate residents amid health and safety concerns over the already poor and deteriorating services.

On 17 August 2009 the tower failed in gaining listed status on the grounds of it being a non-listable building. In January 2012 demolition began, completed in September 2012.

Text from Wikipedia, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (accessed: 08/04/2017).
Visit the page: Derwent Tower for references and further details. You can contribute to this article on Wikipedia.
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Derwent Tower

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Dunston Rocket

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Dunston skyline

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Demolition in progress

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The Dunston Rocket ('fins')

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The Dunston Rocket (looking up)

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The Dunston Rocket

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The Dunston Rocket (looking up)

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Underneath the 'Rocket'

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Derwent Tower

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Derwent Tower

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Demolished Rocket-1020121

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Dunston 2016

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Derwent Tower
- "Derwent Tower (also known as the Dunston Rocket) was a 29-storey residential apartment building in Dunston, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom. Due to its unusual shape it was nicknamed the ...

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Taking care of the Tower

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Dunston views

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