Snell explains ‘natural’ tower

The man who designed Queen’s Wharf Tower in the 1980s says it was meant to be a temporary structure and is surprised it has lasted this long.

Architect Kevin Snell said the observation tower had served its purpose and he was not surprised Newcastle City Council had decided this week to demolish it.

“It was only designed as a temporary structure, like an expo-type structure,” he told the Newcastle Herald.

“My ego’s not threatened, that’s for sure. I’m very, very surprised that the council has dished out the money to maintain it all this time. 

“I applaud the council for 30 years of support for the structure, but I fully understand, and I’m not crestfallen that it is to be demolished because that was always to be the case.”

Mr Snell said the tower, which was built as part of Australia’s bicentennial celebrations and opened by the queen in 1988, was meant to be dismantled after only two to five years.

It was the most efficient structure, and, believe it or not, that is like a poppy stem that we humans like to relate to a phallic symbol. They’re efficient. That’s just the way nature is, I’m afraid.

He said the fact that it had survived 30 years and been popular “proved its worth”. 

As for its suggestive shape, it had not occurred to him at the time that people would see it as a phallic symbol.  

“Believe it or not, not initially, because it evolved as various bits were pared off it for cost reasons,” he said. 

“It was never in my thought process at all. You might find that hard to believe, that I must be naive, but it really didn’t occur to me.

“Over the years I’ve got calls … saying what was I thinking building this big dick sticking up out of the city, and I sort of give them a very serious explanation of why it’s shaped like it is.

“An erect penis is an extremely efficient structure. I think they’re taken aback that I state the obvious.”

Council interim chief executive officer Jeremy Bath described the tower as an “embarrassment” after councillors voted last week to raze it in the middle of next year.