Scaffolding Hire for Demolition
Building is one thing but large building demolition is definitely a specialist area, not for the amateur or cowboy company.
Derwent Tower (also known as the Dunston Rocket) was a 29-storey residential apartment building in Dunston, United Kingdom. Due to the tower block’s unusual shape, the building was nicknamed the “Dunston Rocket” during construction (even before its official Derwent Tower title) and the name has 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 who at the time controlled the Dunston area of Gateshead. The original brief was to design 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 of the properties being low-rise blocks of 2 to 5 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 found
ations with specialists, construction of the foundation began in February 1968, and the tower was completed in March 1971.
The construction of the tower was complex because of the very poor ground conditions on the site. 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; to find this foundation being used in the 1960s for a local authority tower block was a first, the caisson below the tower was put to use as an underground garage area for residents.
The tower itself had a very bold and striking appearance, unlike any other tower block or high rise building in the UK. Derwent Tower was of a Brutalist design and retained lots of design similarities with Gateshead’s “Get Carter car park” also a product of the Owen Luder Partnership. The building housed two-bedroom flats up to the 10th floor, 1 bedroom flats from floor 11 to 29.
The unusual features of Derwent Tower 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)
- Brutalist Form
- Exposed elements of the building’s structure and services, i.e. flying buttresses from floor level and exposed water tanks.
Derwent Tower was in desperate need of refurbishment for many years, making it unpopular with residents and locals alike. The tower had been allowed to fall into a run-down state through neglect and lack of maintenance. Reports of services breakdowns, lift failures, water supply faults are all common but are unlikely to be a result of the building’s design or construction methods. In 2007 Gateshead Council decided to relocate residents of the Derwent Tower amid health and safety concerns over the already poor and deteriorating services.
On 17 August 2009, the tower failed in gaining its listed status on the grounds of it being a non-listable building.
In January 2012, demolition of the building began after plans to demolish the building were approved. Demolition was completed in September 2012.
Marine Scaffolding Ltd Supplied the scaffolding access for this project.
Photos Courtesy of Ken J Fitzpatrick & Coleman & Co