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The University of Sussex

 27 March 2002 

Why learning landscapes need to change

A research seminar to discuss university architecture, from the concrete edifices of the 1960s through to the designs of the future, will take place at the University of Sussex on April 11 and 12.

Speakers at Building Universities: The 1960s and Beyond include architects and academics who will be looking at how university environments have changed in the past 40 years and what adaptations may be necessary for new generations of students.

Professor Nigel Llewellyn, pro-vice-chancellor at Sussex and one of the event's main organisers, says: "We now have a completely different set of circumstances. There has been a huge increase in numbers of students, we have different models of teaching and there have been enormous technological changes. The buildings of the future are likely to be very different."

The University of Sussex is a significant venue for this event because this year marks the 40th anniversary of the first stone being laid for Falmer House. This was Sir Basil Spence's first building on the architecturally innovative campus, is Grade 1 listed and the winner of a Royal Institute of British Architects award.

When he designed the Sussex campus, Spence's ambition was to match the educational vision of the university's founders. As Professor Llewellyn points out: "The general expectation of 1960s architecture is simple, concrete blocks. But here we find astonishing irregularity of form. Things are not quite what they seem. Good architecture should teach people to analyse and be sceptical. We will be looking at whether current architecture fulfils this role."

Seminar delegates will see Spence's original designs, together with silverware made to commemorate the birth of the University and the first Vice-Chancellor's graduation robe (designed by Cecil Beaton).An architectural exhibition using items from the University collection is on display in the foyer of the Library.

Speakers at the conference include: Stefan Muthesius, author of The Postwar University: Utopianist Campus and College (Yale University Press 2000); Susan Robertson, practising architect and lecturer at the University of Brighton; and leading authorities on Spence's architecture, Louise Campbell (University of Warwick) and Brian Edwards (Edinburgh College of Art).

 Notes for editors 

For further information, please contact contact Jacqui Bealing, or Peter Simmons, University of Sussex, Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, or

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