On 20 July 1969, the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle landed on the moon.
It was the first crewed craft to land in space. 6 hours later, tens of millions worldwide watched as Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon, followed by Buzz Aldrin less than 20 minutes later.
What is Space Age Architecture?
Design has always mirrored society, and the Space Race and the Moon Landing greatly impacted the era. They affected everything, from what we ate to how we cooked it, to what we drove and how we looked at life on our (now seemingly smaller) planet.
A new sense of optimism inspired designers. Science Fiction influenced them as the public embraced technology and Modernism.
Here are some of the best examples of space age architecture in England.
1. Canopy at Markham Moor, Nottinghamshire
Reminiscent of the Star Destroyer from the opening scene of ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’, the canopy at a former petrol station in Markham Moor, Nottinghamshire, was built in 1961 to designs by Hugh Segar Scorer.
Thin shell concrete roofs were invented in Germany in the 1920s, and their strength is rooted in their shape.
Originally built as a petrol station, the distinctive appearance of the canopy at Markham Moor gave it landmark status during the 1960s and 70s.
2. Forton Motorway Service, near Lancaster, M6
Another Star Wars ship next to a motorway, Forton Services, was designed by architects T P Bennett & Sons and completed in 1965.
Post-war reconstruction and decentralisation in Great Britain in the 1950s increased the need for new fast freight and passenger links.
Motor and motor transport was favoured, and in the late 1950s and early 1960s development of an arterial network of motorways began.
Service stations were necessary for the rest and refuelling of vehicles and passengers, but their comprehensively planned facilities were also a direct expression of the perceived significance of motorways, identified by Harold Macmillan as a key symbol of Britain’s technological, cultural, and economic progress.
3. British Gas Research Station, Killingworth, Tyne & Wear
Designed in 1965, the British Gas Research Centre in Killingworth, Tyne & Wear, is one of the best known works of architects Ryder and Yates.
The Newcastle based practice was formed by Gordon Ryder and Peter Yates, who met whilst working for Berthold Lubetkin.
Both had also worked for Le Corbusier and Ove Arup and, with their practice, quickly established a reputation for innovative and modern architecture.
The research centre is a building of great purity of form and considerable architectural subtlety and could also double as a Bond villain’s hideout.
4. Trevelyan House, London
Is this a block of neat maisonettes or a rocket ready to launch?
Trevelyan House in Bethnal Green, London, was designed in 1952 (making it a little bit too old to be truly space-age) by architect Denys Lasdun, with Margaret Rodd as an assistant architect.
The site was listed, in part, for its important and early contribution to new ideas in urban housing but also its sculptural architectural form.
5. Space House, London
Designed by Richard Seifert and Partners in the 1960s, Space House in London garnered attention for the innovative use of a precast concrete grid.
This is a form of partial prefabrication that allowed for rapid construction without scaffolding, as well as for striking visual effects.
Replacing an existing Edwardian building on the site, the building was constructed speculatively during a property boom.
6. BT Tower, London
Built between 1961 and 1965, the BT Tower in London was a national and international telephone communication centre by ultra high frequency (UHF) microwave transmission.
The site was chosen at the rear of the Museum Telephone Exchange because this exchange was already the focal point of the telecommunications system and the vision cables network for London, with a cable connection to Broadcasting House.
It also bears a striking resemblance to a lightsaber.
7. Mobil forecourt canopies, Leicester
A re-branding of Mobil Oil Corporation in the US took place in the mid 1960s and the brief called for an instantly recognisable and aesthetically pleasing design.
The project, Pegasus, was a total design concept encompassing shapes, colour schemes and logos and the first station opened in the US in 1966.
The service station in Leicestershire dates from the late 60s and makes a striking extra-terrestrial impression on drivers.
8. Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire
The Lovell Telescope at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, was first conceived by Sir Bernard Lovell in 1948 to build on the successes achieved at Jodrell Bank with the fixed transit telescope.
The dish was a scientific tour-de-force: despite the enormous development of the field, it operated without major alterations for well over a decade, remaining competitive at short wavelengths and superior at those over half a metre.
It was involved in an enormous range of work, including the study of meteors, the moon and planets, the aurorae, the ionosphere, deep space radio sources, interferometry and the measurement of the size of distant radio sources, as well as the tracking and control of Russian and American early spacecraft, laying the foundations for the first manned moon landing on 20 July 1969.
Also protected is the Grade II Control Room at the observatory.