Edmund Nuttall Limited
The Kingsway vents are superficially utilitarian in the clarity of their parts – the air intakes look like intakes, and the chimney looks like a chimney. As so often with the concrete architecture of the 1960s and ’70s, however, this apparently inarticulate simplicity only thinly cloaks a considerable artistic forcefulness. For a start there is an exaggerated quality to the clarity of these vents. The paired vents and bifurcating chimney flues, for example, advertise the presence below of two parallel tunnels. More, the forms themselves are heightened: the chimney swelling cartoonishly as it rises, stiffened by space-rocket-like fins and flanked by the faintly biomorphic air intakes, make these tunnel vents amongst the most immediately recognisable monuments of Liverpool, a city with no shortage of recognisable monuments. The shapes of the vents speak so persuasively of technology, of a particular vision of progress and the future, that they have frequently been compared either to space craft or to a high-design 1960s sound system.