Deco on Deansgate

3 months hence the Tower of Light was officially unveiled on Deansgate we question if this can be seen as a return to decorative arts within architecture? Does the structure parallel concerns of the modern era? How has this small, but perfectly formed smoke outlet fitted into the Manchester skyline?

The inspiration for the structure was taken from shell-lace, the wall of energy to parallel the imprint of waves lapping on the sands of the beach. Natural influences were commonplace within the arts and crafts movement, a rejection of the industrial builds of the Victorian era. Deansgate and the site of the tower, a gateway to the more historic architecture of the great Northern Metropolis. Chimney, stone clad adornations of natural fruit and flowers meet modern, laser cut steel technology.

A decade of pioneering led to this award winning biometric structure from Tonkin Liu architects. The engineers in Arup developed the super-light, super-strong form. Using cutting edge computer modelling technique, sheet steel was laser cut, tailored and welded into four sections, completion taking place on the city-centre thoroughfare.

Opening, officially in February, unintentionally coinciding with Russia’ invasion of Ukraine. Subsequently, the environmental credentials became of immense importance. Powering heat and light for 5 of the city’s key buildings, currently covering a 2km range which can be extended to privately owned business premises. Low carbon power is generated under the railway arches, looking to cut 5 thousand tons of carbon emissions over the next 5 years. 

The small, but perfectly formed tower is actually 40 metres in height. However, its standing is dwarfed by the geometrically patterned cladding of the 93 metre high Axis building. Many in Manchester have not actually viewed the tower as of yet. However its beauty of scale is a designated visual highlight. The elegant light displays, daily; created by the reflections of the internal wind generated structure, taken over by LEDs from nightfall. The potential for the tower to cast illumination is specific colours in response to sporting victories and festivals such as Pride not to be disregarded. An architectural structure which can momentualise victory and celebration simply a triumph.

An edifice which will redirect modern architecture to the natural forms of old. A master of modern construction technology and a monument fitting to the direction of the decade.

In short, a shell-lace, light projecting legacy of the 2020’s.