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Sculptural Wall

A Grade II Listed Building in City Centre, Manchester

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.4755 / 53°28'31"N

Longitude: -2.2311 / 2°13'51"W

OS Eastings: 384759

OS Northings: 397670

OS Grid: SJ847976

Mapcode National: GBR DMK.L3

Mapcode Global: WHB9G.PWSY

Entry Name: Sculptural Wall

Listing Date: 10 June 2011

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1400857

Location: Manchester, M1

County: Manchester

Electoral Ward/Division: City Centre

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Manchester

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater Manchester

Church of England Parish: Manchester St Ann

Church of England Diocese: Manchester

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Summary

Sculptural wall and sound buffer, 1968, by Antony Hollaway

Description

Sculptural wall and sound buffer, 1968, by Antony Hollaway in collaboration with Harry M Fairhurst, concrete, approx. 68m long, 4.5-6m high, Brutalist style.

Locational context: Wall marks east boundary of Sackville Street campus. Small car park/yard and Moffat Building to the west of the wall, grassy area and London Road to east. Wall stands on gently sloping ground to the front, highest point at south end. Lower ground level to rear of wall.

Front elevation: Prefabricated concrete curtain wall panels of varying height are slotted into concrete columns of varying width, the concrete is formed in rough sawn timber formwork to enhance weathering and texture. Most of the panels incorporate narrow vertical slits to upper parts, and large square projections and sunken features are set within some panels. Shorter return walls are set to each end of the main wall and are in similar style; that to north end incorporates a pair of tall plank and batten timber gates with iron studding which lead into a small car park/yard area behind wall. The south end of the wall is approx. 7.5m high due to lower ground level to south-west side, with a series of narrow full-height vertical slits to left half of wall, and full-height vertical channels to right half. A plain low concrete wall (surmounted in part by stepped iron railings) projecting from south-east corner of front elevation and continuing south alongside a public footpath is not of special interest. Rear elevation: Plain and flush finish.

History

The sculptural concrete wall at London Road was constructed in 1968 to the designs of the artist Antony Hollaway (1928-2000) and was commissioned by the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology (UMIST). Hollaway's design was developed in collaboration with the architect Harry M Fairhurst. This partnership produced many commissions from 1963, including concrete relief panels on one of the university's nearby buildings (the Faraday Building), and stained glass windows in Manchester Cathedral. The wall at London Road was designed as a sound buffer, and the constructional techniques and rough sawn formwork employed were intended to enhance the wall's weathering and texture.

Antony Hollaway studied art at Bournemouth College of Art (1948-53) and later at the Royal College of Art (1953-57). For 9 years from 1959 he was employed as a Design Consultant (along with William Mitchell) to London County Council's (LCC) Architect's Housing Division, where he produced decorative finishes and artworks for projects in the public realm, new schools, and housing estates. At this time concrete was the main building material, and there was much opposition to 'concrete jungles' replacing terraced housing and the sociological problems that often occurred with the formation of new estates. The role of the Design Consultant was to find new ways of 'humanising' the building materials used, and to ensure that environments were made attractive through works of art that were permanent, vandal-proof, and maintenance-free.

Leading local authority architects and engineers of the day, including Frederick Gibberd (architect of the Metropolitan RC Cathedral, Liverpool, 1962-7), were involved with the LCC on a more sporadic basis, as was the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology (UMIST), which was involved in carrying forward the development work instigated by Hollaway and the architects he worked with. During his time of working for the LCC Hollaway invented, developed and executed new applications for concrete, for which he filed a number of patents. He also led research at the Cement & Concrete Association, Wexham Springs.

During the 1960s Hollaway taught at various colleges and polytechnics, and he produced numerous sculptural works for Leicestershire Education Authority. In 1965 Hollaway produced a metal mural inspired by pre-Roman archaeology for the banking hall of Lloyds Bank, Eastbourne. Some of his other works included a large abstract concrete relief of the River Soar (1966, still extant) adorning the exterior of the Leicestershire County Hall building in Glenfield; a coloured mosaic, glass and concrete sculptural screen wall representing the 'Golden Mean' (1961, still extant) at King Edward VII Science & Sport College, Coalville, Leicestershire; a mural for City University, London in 1970; a mosaic for the Lloyds Bank head office at Cornhill, London in 1970; a series of small abstract concrete reliefs on the Faraday Building, Manchester (part of the former UMIST campus and designed by Harry M Fairhurst, still extant); and the 'Waterfall' (c.1999, still extant), a 9ft high oak sculpture in the inner courtyard of Salisbury District Hospital. His later work concentrated on stained glass and mosaics, and he designed five stained glass windows for the grade I listed Manchester Cathedral, which were installed between 1971 and 1995.

Reasons for Listing

The sculptural wall at London Road is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Design quality: It has an imposing and striking sculptural Brutalist design that combines both special artistic and architectural interest
* Artist and architect partnership: It was designed by the highly successful artist Antony Hollaway in collaboration with the notable regional architect Harry M Fairhurst, and symbolises the inter-woven relationship of artist and architect that was pioneered by Hollaway and William Mitchell through their work as Design Consultants to London County Council's Architect's Housing Division in 1959-68
* Dual function: It is a good and rare example of 1960s public art design that also incorporates a functional purpose as a sound buffer; reflecting Hollaway's philosophy of combining public art, form and function
* Historic Interest: The wall's functional role as a sound buffer is of historic interest as it illustrates a concept introduced in the 1950s and 60s of separating people from the noise and visual and physical intrusion of vehicular traffic, following a rapid and substantial rise in car ownership
* Constructional and technological quality: It is constructed of high-quality concrete to engineering standards, and demonstrates the skills and methods developed by Hollaway during the 1960s in the research he led for the Cement & Concrete Association.

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