UEA Colchester Campus

Architect: Architects Co-Partnership
Date Built: 1960's
Usage: Education
Picture of The Brutalist

The Brutalist

The Albert Sloman Library - UEA Colchester Campus

The Albert Sloman Library, located on the University of Essex campus in Colchester, UK, is a striking example of Brutalist architecture. Built in the 1970s, the library is a concrete monolith that towers over the surrounding landscape, drawing the eye with its bold lines and massive form.

Brutalist architecture, also known as New Brutalism, emerged in the 1950s and was characterized by the use of raw concrete and a focus on functionalism and utility. The Brutalist style was often used for public buildings such as libraries, museums, and universities, as it was seen as a way to create a sense of grandeur and stability.

The Albert Sloman Library is a prime example of this style, with its massive concrete structure and utilitarian design. The building is divided into four levels, with the lower levels housing the stacks and the upper levels containing study areas and administrative offices. The interior is minimalist, with concrete walls and floors, and few decorative elements.

Despite its imposing appearance, the Albert Sloman Library is a popular and well-used facility on the University of Essex campus. Its spacious interior and ample natural light make it a comfortable and inviting place to study, and the building has become a central hub for the university community.

While some critics have criticized Brutalist architecture for being cold and uninviting, the Albert Sloman Library is a testament to the timeless appeal of this style. Its bold lines and massive form make it a striking addition to the University of Essex campus, and its functional design ensures that it will remain a valuable resource for students and faculty for years to come.

I’ve included images of the award winning Silberrad Student Centre designed by Patel Taylor, whilst not Brutalist it was designed to fit the Brutalism of the Albert Sloman Library the large brutalist building it sits next to.

The Silberrad Student Centre is the largest new building on the campus since 1965, a new wing to the Albert Sloman library, a new student centre and lakeside square creates an important new front door to the University. The building provides an integrated learning centre, library, special collections, reading room, student media centre, one-stop-shop for students facility and a board room for the University Council.

Working closely within the context of the existing Albert Sloman Library, the 1960’s campus infrastructure and the heritage parkland setting, this design shows the importance of context and programme to conceive flexible design resonating with a sense of place and setting. Completed in 2015, this was Taylor Patel’s second project for the university following the completion of the Ivor Crewe lecture hall in 2007 which is also included in the gallery below.

Awards for the Silberrad Student Centre:

  • RIBA National Award 2016
  • RIBA Regional Building of the Year Award 2016
  • RIBA Regional Award 2016
  • Schueco Excellence Award Overall Winner 2016
  • Schueco Education Award 2016
  • Architizer A+ Award 2016

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