‘Radio Campanile’: Sixties modernity, the Post Office Tower and public space

GOLDIE, Chris (2011). ‘Radio Campanile’: Sixties modernity, the Post Office Tower and public space. Journal of Design History, 24 (3), 207-222.

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Link to published version:: 10.1093/jdh/epr022

Abstract

No serious work has examined the history of the Post Office Tower, although recently it has figured in popular architecture and design journalism. Thus, Jonathan Glancey and Stephen Bayley have both referred to the tower’s significance in the 1960s and interpreted it as a symbol of the technological modernization of Harold Wilson’s ‘white heat’ of the ‘scientific revolution’. This article acknowledges that the Post Office Tower’s modernity is central to any interpretation but argues that white heat explanations are problematic and that its evolving design and public meaning were shaped by a wide range of factors, long preceding the 1960s Labour government, and are best understood in the context of an earlier and more protracted history. This historical context was the contested modernity of the late 1950s and issues around planning, landscape, popular access and democratic citizenship with their origins in the early post-war period. The latter issues are examined through debates about picturesque theory and through Adrian Forty’s discussion of welfare state architecture and the Festival Hall. It is argued that this focus reveals underlying but previously neglected aspects of the Post Office Tower’s design history.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Communication and Computing Research Centre
Identification Number: 10.1093/jdh/epr022
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Chris Goldie
Date Deposited: 28 May 2012 10:42
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2013 10:47
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/5165

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