Nineteen years on - the story behind how the Spinnaker Tower design was chosen

IT WAS 19 years ago that plans were first set in motion for the construction of a futuristic tower in Portsmouth Harbour.

Monday, 9th January 2017, 5:55 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 1:03 pm
Architect Hedley Greentree, right, unveils the £50m scheme to redevelop Portsmouth and Gosport waterfront with Portsmouth's head of marketing, Paul Spooner, in March 1995

The building would become a gateway to the city, creating hundreds of jobs and becoming the spearhead of the £86m Renaissance of Portsmouth Harbour project.

We now know this building as the Spinnaker Tower, described by many as the most iconic structure on the south coast.

The designer, Hedley Greentree, died last month. His goal for the building was to create a unique maritime-inspired structure that would be instantly recognisable to anyone who visited.

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The iconic tower we have today

Many people may recall that there were actually three different designs for people to choose from; the Spinnaker, the Globe and the Triple.

The designs each took inspiration from aspects of life in Portsmouth and its maritime history.

The Spinnaker adopted a sail-like shape, the Globe’s L-shaped columns represented Portsmouth and Gosport and the Triple represented a ship, with a funnel shape at the top.

All three stood at over 360ft tall, but the tallest was actually the Triple design, which had a viewing platform at 377ft.

On Wednesday, February 11, 1998 The News gave members of the public the opportunity to vote for their favourite design, in conjunction with polls from Portsmouth City Council and the Berkeley Group, who developed the tower. Voting closed on February 23, with 9,476 people voicing their thoughts on the outcome.

Mr Greentree’s design was announced as the winner, with a total of 6,137 votes (65 per cent)

The editor at the time, Geoff Elliott, said: ‘Many more people than before will now be convinced of the merit of transforming the harbour townscape and of giving the new development the focus of an eye-catching tower.’

Construction of the tower cost Portsmouth City Council a total of £35.6m.

The iconic tower we have today

Chief executive Juliana Delaney said: ‘The Spinnaker Tower is proving to be the enduring design icon of the 21st century for the south coast.

‘Chosen by the people of Portsmouth to celebrate the millennium, Hedley Greentree’s design proved even more dramatic once built than it did in the early design stages. It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Hedley Greentree, but a great credit to him that the tower remains the success story of the south coast.’