The Apollo Pavilion, Oakerside Drive, Peterlee, is both a sculpture and a bridge, designed by Victor Pasmore and completed in 1969, standing at the eastern end of a small lake, and is the focal point for the Registered Pavilion Landscape.
Reasons for Designation
The Apollo Pavilion, Oakerside Drive, Peterlee, created by Victor Pasmore in 1969, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
Architectural interest: the structure is of very high architectural quality, forming the centrepiece of a registered landscape
Artistic quality: the only truly three-dimensional work by the internationally known artist Victor Pasmore, the Pavilion is an abstract work of art, a demonstration of Constructivist ideas on a large scale and an expression of brutalist architecture
Setting: the setting of the structure is the centrepiece of the registered Pavilion Landscape and as such survives intact
The idea for the Apollo Pavilion was the culmination of Victor Pasmore's involvement with the planning and design of the new town of Peterlee in County Durham which began in 1954 with his appointment by A.V. Williams, the General Manager, as a consultant architectural designer to the Corporation. The brief was to inject a new initiative into the new town's design, which had been limited by practical and financial constraints. The early departure of Berthold Lubetkin from the original design team, and the limitations imposed by building on land subject to underground mining, had led to a deterioration in the quality of the architecture being produced at Peterlee.
Victor Pasmore (1908-1998) was an extremely influential artist and became one of the leading abstract artists of his day. His work is found in collections around the world including Tate Britain, MoMA New York and the Art Gallery of South Australia. His style developed from Figurative to Abstract after World War II, and at the time of his involvement with Peterlee he was Master of Painting at King's College, Durham University (later Newcastle University). He was appointed CBE in 1959, a Companion of Honour in 1981 and a Royal Academician in 1983.
Pasmore was known to be interested in town planning and had participated in the International Congress of Modern Architecture. He had produced two murals in collaboration with architects. At Peterlee Pasmore worked initially alongside architects Peter Daniel and Franc Dixon to develop the Sunny Blunts estate in the south-west area of the town, though by the time the Pavilion was built Dixon had left and the team included the more experienced Harry Durell, Colin Gardham and landscape architect David Thirkettle. Pasmore continued to be involved with Peterlee until 1978 and designed the Pavilion as a gift to the town.
Pasmore began designs for the Pavilion in 1963 and it was completed in 1969. It was the centre piece of a wider landscape which involved the damming of a small beck to form a lake which the Pavilion bridges at its eastern end. The Pavilion and lake together formed a focus for the Sunny Blunts housing area and linked the areas on each side of the watercourse. This landscape was included in the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens in 2002. The Pavilion suffered from grafitti and some vandalism from the late 1970s, and in the mid/late 1980s steps on the north and south sides to the upper level were removed. The two original murals faded until they were almost indistinguishable.
It was restored in 2009 with the help of a Heritage Lottery Grant of £336,000. The restoration restored the south side stairway (the other had not been part of the original design), reset the cobbles in the surrounding area and reinstated the two murals on the north and south walls. A metal gate restricting access at night time to the upper level has been introduced, and the original lighting scheme, out of action since the mid 1970s, has been reinstated.
The Apollo Pavilion is a cantilevered construction in reinforced concrete cast in situ with iron railings and balusters. The concrete has two different surface finishes: fair face and exposed aggregate (bush hammered). It consists of a series of cubic shapes forming four plinths which support an upper level above which are further, partly interlocking, shapes of varying sizes. The structure straddles the eastern end of a small lake which drains to the east over a weir controlling the water levels. The lower floor of the pavilion crosses the lake at just above water level via a curving concrete path. Concrete steps with iron railings rise on the south side to the upper level, with an iron gate at the top (added in 2009). The pale concrete has two abstract hand-painted murals in black, on the inward facing sides of the outer ends: these are 2009 renewals of the originals. Rising from the lake immediately to the west of the main structure is a metal pole holding an abstract, tubular, concrete sculpture.
The area around the pavilion is paved with cobbles set in concrete which slope down to the water's edge both around the lake and to either side of the stream as it falls to the east. There is a viewing platform over the beck to the east of the Pavilion.