National Trust tours will explore brutalist architecture at the UEA

The National Trust's tour of the UEA will include the famous ziggurats.

The National Trust's tour of the UEA will include the famous ziggurats. - Credit: Supplied

There can few subjects more likely to divide opinion than post-war British architecture.

Brutal Utopias: a National Trust celebration of Brutalist architecture. Pictured: Denys Lasdun. Pict

Brutal Utopias: a National Trust celebration of Brutalist architecture. Pictured: Denys Lasdun. Picture: UEA - Credit: UEA

For some, the concrete housing estates and sharp-edged buildings were a brave statement about modern Britain; to others, they were a blot on our urban landscapes, and came to symbolise the bleak alienation of modern life.

But for the National Trust, the time has come to shine a light on a movement it said 'altered the landscape of Britain's urban environment post war'.

The Trust will hold tours at the University of East Anglia, London's Southbank and Sheffield's Park Hill Estate next month to explore brutalism.

The Trust said: 'The celebrated campus of the University of East Anglia is considered iconic in its use of brutalist sharp angles, rough concrete surfacing and exposed services in order to create functional and honest architecture.'

Sir Denys Lasdun (left) UEA. Date: jan 1989

Sir Denys Lasdun (left) UEA. Date: jan 1989 - Credit: Archant

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Francois Girardin, senior lecturer in architecture and technology at the Norwich University of the Arts, said that advances in technology which changed the way that concrete could be used allowed the brutalist movement to take place.

He said: 'It's very unique, and of a very particular time in British architecture, post-war. It was an expression of democracy. It's the expression of a style that was specifically more democratic and was new and contemporary.'

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He said brutalist architecture was very much commissioned and designed by civil servants, leading some critics to label it communist or socialist building at its worst - something Mr Girardin disagreed with.

He said one attribute of brutalist architecture was that it was a 'very truthful type of construction', giving as an example the ceilings of the Southbank buildings, which are left exposed, rather than covered with cladding.

Roger Bond, director of estates at UEA, said: 'The University of East Anglia has always been proud of its campus so we are delighted to host these National Trust tours that draw attention to the national significance of the site and the quality of its architecture.'

The tours of the UEA will include the context of the creation of the university, early designs, the network of concrete walkways, the Teaching Wall – nearly half a kilometer of teaching spaces – and the Ziggurats, which were used on the final album of chart-topping rapper The Streets, Computers and Blues, in 2011.

Tours take place on Saturday, October 3, and Sunday, October 4, at 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm, lasting a maximum of 80 minutes. Tickets cost £7 for adults and £6 for concessions.

They begin under the sheltered area of Block E of the Arts Building, on the corner of Chancellor's and University Drive, and end at the Sainsbury Centre.

What do you think? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

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