Friday, 6 March 2015

Sussex University - a Listed Building Heritage Partnership

Brighton & Hove City Council, the University of Sussex and English Heritage  are set to sign up to a Listed Building Heritage Partnership Agreement which will be the second such agreement in the country - and the first involving a university.

The University of Sussex was the first of a new wave of universities created in the early 1960s. The early buildings were designed by the celebrated architect, Sir Basil Spence, and include one Grade l and seven Grade II* listed buildings. They have many common design features, such as flat roofs, red brick and concrete arches. The fact that these buildings are listed in the two highest grades is a reflection of their considerable quality and significance. The University has continued to develop the site in sympathy with the early design and site layout.

The agreement will mean that Listed Building Consent for general or repeated work would be granted without the need for the university to individually apply for consent – cutting red tape and saving time and money. This includes work to repair or replace the external fabric of buildings, internal fixtures and finishes to upgrade teaching facilities and works to improve safety and accessibility.

The university has carried out best practice for such works for many years and contributed to the current guidelines for listed buildings on the campus. It currently makes several listed building consent applications every year.

The agreement would set conditions to ensure that work is carried out consistently using materials in keeping with buildings.

Samantha Johnson, Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas for English Heritage in the South East said: "Spence's buildings at Sussex University are an outstanding example of twentieth century architecture.  Spence's inspiration was from the classical forms of Ancient Rome.  At Sussex, the voids and spaces he created at Falmer House capture the idea of the ruinous condition of the Colosseum.  He was also influenced by Le Corbusier's Maisons Jaoul which is seen at Sussex in the concrete arches and austere red brickwork across the campus.  The buildings, which include the sculptural Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts and the beautiful meeting house with jewel like windows, create an exceptional 'set piece' around Fulton Court well worthy of its high designation. The LBHPA will be another tool to aid the long term conservation of this exceptional collection of buildings."

At a meeting on March 12 the committee will be recommended to give final approval for the agreement – if agreed it will be the second in the country and will run for 10 years, subject to periodic review.

The Gardner Arts Centre.

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