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|Alternative names||Dunston Rocket|
|Address||Ellison Road, Gateshead. NE11 9DF|
|Height||85 m (280 ft)|
|Design and construction|
Derwent Tower was a 29-storey residential apartment building in Dunston, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom, opened in 1971. 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 was demolished in 2012.
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 designwith many 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 and one-bedroom flats on floors 11 to 29. It featured in a 1970s advert for Tudor Crisps.
Unusual features were:
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.
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Gateshead is a large town in Tyne and Wear, England, on the southern bank of the River Tyne opposite Newcastle upon Tyne. Gateshead and Newcastle are joined by seven bridges across the Tyne, including the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. The town is known for its architecture, including the Sage Gateshead, the Angel of the North and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Residents of Gateshead, like the rest of Tyneside, are usually referred to as Geordies. Gateshead's town population in 2011 was 120,046.
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Owen Luder, is an English architect who designed a number of notable and sometimes controversial buildings in the United Kingdom in the 1960s and 1970s, many now demolished. He is a former chairman of the Architects Registration Board and twice served as President of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1981–1983 and 1995–1997. He established his own practice Owen Luder Partnership in 1957, and left in 1987 to form the consultancy Communication In Construction.
John Dobson was a 19th-century English architect in the neoclassical tradition. He became the most noted architect in the North of England. Churches and houses by him dot the North East - Nunnykirk Hall, Meldon Park, Mitford Hall, Lilburn Tower, St John the Baptist Church in Otterburn, Northumberland, and Beaufront Castle among them. During his career he designed more than 50 churches and 100 private houses. However, he is best known for designing Newcastle railway station and for his work with Richard Grainger developing the centre of Newcastle in a neoclassical style.
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