Norfolk Terrace and Suffolk Terrace - 'the Ziggurats'
Norfolk Terrace and Suffolk Terrace (the Ziggurats) teaching wall and library
University of East Anglia, Norwich
Denys Lasdun and Partners
Listed grade II* (ziggurats) and grade II, 16 October 2003
Lasdun was commissioned in 1962 to produce a master plan and the first buildings for this new university, the third after Sussex had opened the way for new foundations. A large site was chosen alongside the River Yare, from which a lake was formed only in 1975–7. Lasdun was determined to preserve this open landscape, and placed his buildings where the valley starts to rise.
Lasdun’s aim, like that of Chamberlin at Leeds, was for a ‘five-minute university’ with departmental buildings and residential accommodation close together. He thus proposed a long teaching spine flanked by students’ flats, with a library in a central green ‘dry dock’, all linked by high-level walkways. The cranked spine also symbolised the links between subject areas where academic research was concentrating in the 1960s. The concrete construction combined in situ work with panels precision-cast on site, in situ service towers projecting from Lasdun’s distinctive, crisply finished and very long horizontals.
Flats for students were cheaper than traditional halls and recognised as more progressive, with 12 students sharing a kitchen/diner and creating a supportive social grouping equivalent to that of the Oxbridge staircase. Each flat is set back and partially lowered so that its sill level meets the roof of the flat below. This stepped section and continuous profile, with each elevation at 90 degrees to the next, has led to the terraces becoming known as the Ziggurats. Only two lines of ziggurats were completed before Lasdun’s contract was terminated in 1968, but they remain the boldest architecture of any new university.
Since the listing the library has been extended, and the university continues to expand.
This was first published in 'England's Post-War Listed Buildings' by Elain Harwood and James O. Davies. Read a review of the book and interview with Elain Harwood here.
Read other extracts from the book:
Featured articles and news
A new concept unveiled to tackle the lack of sports facilities in inner cities.
'Open hand' designs revealed for a new entertainment complex in China.
Modernist architecture and its many international variations explained.
BRE support Europe-wide strategic heating plans for local and national authorities.
Work set to begin on 'one of America's greatest parks', which will be 10 times bigger than Central Park.
One of our most popular articles - RSHP's Mike Davies writes about the concept design process.
As Cuba mourn the death of Castro, major renovation of this symbolic landmark may be a reflection of the country's fresh start.
How cannabis plants are used to create an alternative building material with plenty of advantages.
What does Mayor Sadiq Khan's first policy statement mean for London's infrastructure?
Bjarke Ingels Group announced as winners of design competition for new residential landmark in Amsterdam.