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26-May-2018 17:59

The accommodation of the students in independent flats, away from a collegiate system, marked a new departure in allowing students greater freedom within a 'family unit' of their peers.

The stepped form owes something to Sant'Elia's drawings for 'Casa a gradinate', and to Marcel Breuer's 1928 scheme for a hospital at Elberfeld, which had a stepped section and an upper gallery for rear access.

Escape stairs, dog-leg and of shuttered concrete, at each end of the range.

Continuous timber windows to south, each in two halves with horizontal sliding section.

The expression of the services as rooftop sculpture reflects Lasdun's awareness of Louis Kahn's Richards Medical Laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as earlier projects of his own.

His scheme for Churchill College, Cambridge (1960), had already used similar terraces, as did his built scheme at Christ's College and proposals for the Cripps Building at St John's (both Cambridge 1962).

UEA and Leeds both adopted the principle of the continuous teaching block, a concept being developed concurrently but independently in North America (especially in Canada).

Lasdun's nascent scheme, published in May 1963, intended a development of up to 6,000 people over fifteen years, and shows the form of the ziggurats and long spinal teaching block in a form recognisable but more complex and extensive than that built.

Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

The consequent reduction in ceiling heights in the rear part of the block makes for a shorter access stair, with twelve steps between each floor.

Internal staircases at centre of each block lead from each flat to rear walkway at level of uppermost flat (though only third floor at rear) over bicycle and carparking area.

The buildings themselves, however, should be seen not only as form-making and an intellectualised counterpoint between the building mass and the landscape; they give lessons in consistent detail throughout a wide-ranging building programme and illustrate a single-minded effort to ensure high quality maintenance-free exteriors and internal elements within permitted cost levels' (Architects' Journal, 14 June 1972, p.1334).

Of all the new universities of the 1960s the architecture of UEA 'has most consciously created a visual impression of experiment and enquiry, yet without the use of bizarre forms of materials, and notably without recourse to any academic architecture' (Tony Birks and Michael Holford, Building the New Universities, 1972, p.73).Lasdun was determined to preserve the flat, marshy and very open valley landscape and the line of ziggurats placed where the valley begins to rise is part of this concept.