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Sussex campus buildings are design classics

* 11 March 2003 *

Sussex campus buildings are design classics

The University of Sussex campus buildings rank alongside design classics such as the Mini car and Mary Quant's mini skirt, according to a new BBC TV programme on the 1960s.

'Designing the Decades', a four-part series starting this week on BBC 2, revisits the nation's design heritage from the '60s to the '90s and takes a journey through 40 years of iconic architecture, interiors, fashion and design.

The programme on the 1960s explores the designs that shaped that decade, including the Modernist architecture of Sir Basil Spence at Sussex.

Opening with old film footage of a snow-covered Falmer campus, narrator Penelope Keith describes the campus architecture as "Modernism at its best - brutal and beautiful."

A BBC camera crew spent a day on the campus late last year filming the Library, Falmer House, Meeting House, Gardner Arts Centre and the Arts buildings. They also interviewed art historian Professor Nigel Llewellyn and the Students' Union President, Ros Hall.

In the programme, Professor Llewellyn and Ms Hall both speak about some of the stories and myths associated with the buildings: Do the two tall structures on Arts A represent a tuning fork or antenna? Is the Library an open book resting on its spine? And does Falmer House resemble a camera?

Meanwhile, Sussex graduate Catherine Boyd (née Jay) reminisces about the radical student politics of the time. "We would pass motions condemning regimes and policies - as if anyone cared what we thought," she recalls.

Jonathan Glancey, architecture and design editor of the Guardian, praises the "delightful sense of playfulness" of the campus, while architectural historian Brian Edwards calls it "loud architecture", with more of a debt to the rockers of the time than to the mods.

To see Sussex in the 60s and to find out which other design icons reflected the aspirations and ideals of the decade, tune in to BBC 2 on Saturday 15 March at 8pm.

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