Discover the architecturally radical and progressive postwar development of UK university campuses in our latest exhibition in The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery.
Another Brick in the Wall, which is on display until Saturday 25 March 2023, explores the striking Brutalist architecture of the mid-twentieth century at the University of Leeds and beyond. The exhibition highlights a period at which the nation’s aspirations outstripped the infrastructure available, seeing universities across the UK radically develop their campuses, and examines this critical stage in the development of modern Britain through the lens of architecture.
One focus of the display is the University of Leeds campus, including iconic buildings like the Roger Stevens, which embody the utopian aspirations for higher education in postwar Britain. A selection of archival material demonstrates the aesthetic vision of the architects, the complexity of their plans, and the practicalities required to build them, including a 1967 drawing of what would become the Roger Stevens building, designed by architects Chamberlin, Powell, and Bon.
Architects in this era based the design of the new universities around the idea that anywhere on campus should be within ten minutes’ walk of anywhere else. Another Brick in the Wall explores this vision with the production of bespoke modernist style enamel map panels, displayed alongside a photographic series of images taken at one-minute intervals around the campuses of Leeds, Sussex, and East Anglia.
Another Brick in the Wall is guest curated by Simon Phipps, renowned architectural photographer whose published works include ‘Brutal North’ and ‘Finding Brutalism,’ and Darren Umney, an independent writer and researcher whose work explores the social and political contexts of architecture and design. It is presented in collaboration with Arup Phase 2.
Simon Phipps has exclusively produced new photographs of the University of Leeds, University of Sussex, and University of East Anglia (UEA) campus buildings for the exhibition, that are exhibited alongside rarely seen archival material from the universities and Arup. Arup, as Ove Arup & Partners, were highly prolific working on many key postwar developments including at UEA and Sussex. The exhibition develops an innovative visual language by juxtaposing Phipps’ striking architectural photography with an eclectic selection of images and objects from these archives. The resulting compositions offer a compelling insight into the architectural, archival, and cultural landscape of the period.
Speaking to the subject of the exhibition and the inspiration for his photographs, Simon Phipps remarks:
‘The precincts and vistas of the new universities provide unparalleled scope for capturing photographically the memorability of image that the best postwar modernist architecture displays. Leeds, Sussex and UEA are extraordinary examples of the radical architectural approach that was taken to create these ambitious new centres of learning, they consistently reward the enquiring lens.’
Darren Umney adds to this identification of ambition as a key theme:
‘The exhibition captures the utopian spirit of the new universities and the optimism of that era. Set against a backdrop of pre-war deprivation and postwar austerity the story of the new universities invites us to reflect on what might have been.’
Another Brick in the Wall invites you to look back at the ambitious architecture of postwar developments, whilst also providing space to imagine university campuses of the future. Visit the exhibition now to delve into the architectural and social histories of UK University campuses and debate currents issues affecting the future of university architecture and learning spaces.
‘Another Brick in the Wall’ is on display in The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery until Saturday 25 March 2023. Full information about how to visit the exhibition can be found on the Leeds University Library Galleries website.