Students Staff

02 February 2015

Something Fierce growls again

An exhibition dedicated to the brutalist architecture of the University of Essex and 50 years of student life is open this week.

More than 5,000 people visited Something Fierce: University of Essex Vision and Reality between September and December and the University is offering more opportunities for people to visit.

Jess Kenny , co-curator with Professor Jules Lubbock, said: “We got a fantastic response to the exhibition and we would love more people to come and see the displays. We would really like everyone who has been involved in the life of the University over our 50 year history will take the chance to come along to find out more about our founding vision, how the university has changed and the students who have made the University of Essex such a vibrant and exciting place to study. We know many people in Colchester and the rest of Essex studied here, worked here, were involved in building the University and we would love to welcome them back to the Colchester Campus.”

The exhibition will be opening for four weeks between now and the end of July. The other weeks will be: Tuesday 10 March to Saturday 14 March, Tuesday 28 April to Monday 4 May, and Tuesday 14 July to Saturday 18 July 2015

The displays investigate how an 18th century landscaped parkland once painted by Constable and with a Jacobean mansion at its heart became the home of an ultra-modern 20th century university.

Professor Lubbock explains the ideas which inspired the University including the key figures of Lord Annan and the first Vice-Chancellor Sir Albert Sloman and how the architect Kenneth Capon carried those ideas into the masterplan and the key buildings.

Those key buildings include the dramatically positioned Albert Sloman Library influenced by another Brutalist masterpiece - Kenzo Tange’s Kagawa Prefecture - and the imposing brick towers which evoke Kahn’s Philadelphia Laboratories.

The Albert Sloman Library is still influential and was included as an icon of the 20th century in the V&A exhibition British Design 1948–2012: Innovation in the Modern Age.

The exhibition is being staged in another iconic building The Hexagon, newly refurbished especially, which once graced a postage stamp in the 1970s due to its provocative quartz inspired design.
The displays include photos, architectural drawings and even a recreation of the LEGO model built by Capon for Sloman in 1962 to explain his initial masterplan.

Other displays include examples of how the original 1960s concrete was created on site to highlight the skilled workmanship required.

A second section of exhibition is devoted to the life of the University over the past five decades including the student protests of the late 1960s and 1970s through to the Anti-Apartheid Movement and human rights campaigns of more recent years.

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