• Gemma Corby

Zig-a-Zig-Ziggurats: a trip to the University of East Anglia

If you know me, you will know I am a fan of all things 1960s, including architectural design.

Ziggurats Brutalist Architecture Denys Lasdun
The Ziggurats of the UEA

The University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Brutalist campus was designed by Sir Denys Lasdun in the mid-sixties. The famous Grade II-listed student flats were inspired by the Ziggurats of ancient Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq); these were buildings where each successive storey was smaller than the one below it, forming a terrace.

Ziggurat Brutalism Denys Lansdun
Ziggurat up close

Sir Denys Lasdun’s work was heavily influenced by Le Corbusier. He was also responsible for designing Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge; the Institute of Education (part of University College London) and the Royal National Theatre on the South Bank, London.

Not far from the Ziggurats is the Norman Foster-designed Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, which opened in 1978. Sir Robert and Lady Lisa Sainsbury (of supermarket fame) donated their extensive art collection to the UEA in 1973.

Norman Foster Sainsbury Centre UEA Norwich
The Norman Foster designed Sainsbury Centre

The collection has since grown and includes antiquities from around the world, as well as pieces by famous artists such as Claude Monet, David Hockney, Edgar Degas and Francis Bacon. It is surrounded by a beautiful sculpture park – which includes works by Henry Moore and John Davies.

Henry Moore Sainsbury Centre Norwich UEA
Henry Moore sculpture

The gallery is free – although there is a cost for special exhibitions. Parking is also free at present (and it has been since lockdown) and there is a great café on site.

UEA Brutalist architecture Norwich
The UEA's impressive Brutalist campus