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Conserving Dirty Concrete: The Decline and Rise of Pasmore's Apollo Pavilion, Peterlee

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Graham Farmer, Professor John Pendlebury



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


The Apollo Pavilion, Peterlee, is a large sculpture built to the designs of artist Victor Pasmore. Always controversial, the pavilion has been under threat for much of its life. However, it is recently restored and in December 2011 it was granted Grade II* listing. This might be seen as a story of an artwork and monument rescued from ruin by an artistic and cultural elite similar to the one which created it, as part of a wider “authorized heritage discourse” that has sought to revalorize avant-garde modernist structures despite public hostility. However, the paper argues that the pavilion also needs to be understood in other ways. First, the impetus for creating a positive future for the pavilion has been generated locally. Second, there is a need to understand it in the wider context of the landscape in which it sits; as the visual culmination of an ambitious collaboration between artist and architect. Third, the pavilion should be seen as a monument embodying progressive values, as part of the post-war settlement that strove to create better living environments for all. Fourth, it is argued, it is an object that will continue to provoke, rather than becoming part of a warm, comforting blanket of heritage.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Farmer G; Pendlebury J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Urban Design

Year: 2013

Volume: 18

Issue: 2

Pages: 263-280

Print publication date: 01/04/2013

Online publication date: 11/04/2013

Date deposited: 06/11/2015

ISSN (print): 1357-4809

ISSN (electronic): 1469-9664

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/13574809.2013.772884


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