A show on British cooling towers explores these sculptural giants

'British Cooling Towers - Sculptural Giants' is a new exhibition created by Twentieth Century Society (C20 Society) and Margaret Howell, presented during the London Festival of Architecture 2023

Ironbridge Panorama of cooling towers
Ironbridge Gorge cooling towers
(Image credit: Luke O'Donovan)

'British Cooling Towers - Sculptural Giants,' an exhibition focusing on the architectural value and historic legacy of this industrial typology and piece of brutalist architecture, is opening to the public this weekend. Launched by Margaret Howell in association with the Twentieth Century Society (C20), the show is located at the brand's space on Wigmore Street and forms part of the London Festival of Architecture (LFA) 2023, which kicked off this week.

Ironbridge Panorama of cooling towers

(Image credit: Luke O'Donovan)

'British Cooling Towers - Sculptural Giants': a brutalist exploration

Bold and beautiful, these mesmerising architectural structures have had a powerful impact on the British landscape – and this show aims to celebrate and discuss it, as C20 is undertaking a campaign to raise awareness of the immediate threat British cooling towers face. 

Ferrybridge CC cooling tower

(Image credit: Luke O'Donovan)

'The Twentieth Century Society have been at the forefront of protecting modern heritage for more than 40 years, but saving cooling towers is perhaps our biggest challenge yet. These ‘Sculptural Giants’ have a presence unlike any other structures in the British landscape, yet within just a couple of years all the surviving examples are scheduled to be decommissioned and demolished. This new exhibition celebrates their engineering and artistic bravura, the impact they’ve had on all our lives, and looks at how these are relics of the carbon age,' says C20 director Catherine Croft. 

black and white photography shwing concrete industrial cooling towers

(Image credit: John Maltby _ RIBA Collections)

The exhibition features captivating photography by Luke O'Donovan, mixed with historic imagery from the RIBA archives - offering context of past and present, in the hopes to inform the cooling towers' future. To that end, a panel discussion chaired by Catherine Croft, Director of C20 on the 14 June in the space aims to provide more food for thought and instigate conversation. 

'British Cooling Towers - Sculptural Giants' is on at the Margaret Howell flagship shop, 34 Wigmore Street, 3 - 18 June




Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).