“An architecture and sculpture of purely abstract form through which to walk, in which to linger and on which to play; a free and anonymous monument which, because of its independence, can lift the activity and psychology of an urban housing community on to a universal plane” Victor Pasmore
The holistic relationship between the landscape and housing is culminated in the Apollo Pavilion completed in 1969 and named by Victor Passmore after the first manned space mission. The pavilion is one of the largest public art and architecture experiments of the Post-War era. Cast in-situ, the interlocking geometric planes of concrete unfold above the small, man-made lake at the heart of the Sunny Blunts estate.
Originally unnamed and officially unopened, the stifled beginning of the Apollo Pavilion set a precedent for the love/hate relationship that would ensue with the people of Peterlee. It inevitably became a meeting place for young people and attracting vandalism and graffiti. Repeated calls to demolish the structure were rebuked by the artist who proposed that it would be far more desirable to dynamite the neighbouring houses. The graffiti, he felt had “humanised and improved the sculpture far more than I could ever have done”.
In 2009, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant of £336k for the restoration of the pavilion. The hand-painted murals have been reinstated and the deck has been reopened to the public.
Photos 1-3 copyright of David Dawson, used under Creative Commons licence
Photos 4-5 copyright of Ronnie Allen, Helen Markides, Rachel Davey and Pratik Jain
Photos 6-9 copyright of Anne, used under Creative Commons licence