The Third Leader: Aim high

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The Independent Online

Welcome to the tallest residential building in Britain, Manchester's Beetham Tower. Towers, you might have noticed, are popular again, almost as popular as when they were called skyscrapers, before they got mixed up with tower blocks and ran into all manner of objections, practical, social and aesthetic.

That last was finely expressed by Sir John Betjeman in an unpublished fragment that we reported on yesterday: "those hideous blocks that slam the sky." It's fortunate for large numbers of architects and developers that this wasn't coined earlier, as Skyslammers would surely never have got off the ground.

Skyscrapers, though, had the romance of the tall ship terminology they borrowed. Some will have it that building high, rather than being symbolic of a spiritual and material ascent and ambition, is merely a continuation of our ancestors' fascination with phallic imagery. It's interesting that residents of the Beetham Tower will be able, on one of Manchester's famous clear days, to see the North-west's most iconic erection, the Blackpool Tower, particularly when I remind you that Sigmund Freud bought a postcard of it on a visit to Blackpool.

Whatever, all this certainly tells you something about the rediscovered vigour of the North-west; equally distinguished and hopefully visible will also be the Liver Building, the colossus of Liverpool, where towers are also big again.

Finally, we must applaud the decision by the Beetham Tower's distinguished architect, Ian Simpson, to live at the top of it: highly reassuring, and most handy if anything leaks.

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