Future Exhibition

Brutal but Beautiful

13.06.2024 - 20.09.2024

Art Exchange

admission free

Plate glass and concrete, politically radical and daring to be different, the University of Essex’s original 1960s architecture sums up the post-war drive to ‘build a better Britain’. This exhibition explores the ideas and ambitions behind the founding of the University of Essex 60 years ago, and how its architecture brought this vision to life.

The University’s founding Vice-Chancellor Albert Sloman appointed Architect’s Co-Partnership to design campus. They were a group of radical architects who believed that architecture should serve a social purpose and change society, instead of merely looking beautiful. They used concrete and new materials to create powerful, sculptural forms and striking images. Our Library, Hex and Towers are testament to this.

The University’s intense building around inter-connected squares has created a community that comes together again and again to make the world a better place – both individually and collectively – through research and study. Through architectural models, film footage and archival photography, Brutal but Beautiful tells the story of how this visionary university was built, responding to an urgent post-war desire to contribute to a fast changing world.