Hunstanton School

Hunstanton School
Escuela Hunstanton 1.jpg
Architect: Peter Smithson & Alison Smithson
Year(s) of construction: 1949-1954
Location: Norwich, Norfolk, England
Coordinates: 52° 56' 11" N, 0° 29' 47" E
See on the Map

Google Logo.jpg

Most parts of this article have been translated using the Google automatic translate engine. Please excuse any mistakes this translation might have and feel free to correct them if you wish to collaborate with our project.


The Hunstanton School building, regarded as the manifesto of the new Brutalist movement, is remembered as the project in which that term was first used as the only solution to the modernist movement as a manifesto of Alison and Peter Smithson. In this manifesto expressing that "it is on a respect for materials where the root of the New Brutalism, ... an understanding of the affinity can be established between the construction and man ... .."

This building stood out for its extraordinary austerity, had a strict budget and formal clarity, expressed the desire of architects to showcase the essence of the structure and materials used.

Completed in 1954, the school Hunstanton is a summary of architectural experimentation in postwar Britain, and the growing acceptance of modernity by the public authorities of the country.


Hunstanton School was built in the town of that name, in the county of Norfolk in eastern England.


The architects from the outset established their interest in finding a relationship between culture, industry and society. Peter Smithson remarked that the way to school "is dictated by a careful study of the educational needs and the pure formal requirements (...)."

The qualities of this building can be summarized as: formal readability of the plant, clear display of the structure and valuation of the materials on its inherent qualities such as "are found."


The parallelepiped-shaped building

On a plain built a parallelepiped-shaped building 89x32 feet and a large entrance hall with double height, whose major axis is arranged in an east-west into Downs Road. The double height lobby is topped by large skylights in the words of Peter Smithson act as "heart and expression of the scholastic community and its relationship with the city."

The building boasts a net and defined edges and a close symmetry in the composition of its main facades. It presents a formal planimetry ordered symmetry axes, namely the Hunstanton school has a biaxial symmetry that is quickly noticeable from the outside.

The building is constructed the way it appears, no matter what has been said about the structural integrity or constructive, mostly of the modern movement buildings appear to be made of a glassy substance and in fact are of brick or concrete. Hunstanton seems to have been made of glass, brick and concrete and it was actually made with those materials.

Water and electricity do not go unexplained holes in the wall, but are driven by visible pipes. One can see what is done and how it works and there is nothing else to do except play spaces.


  • Main Hall

This space is the heart of the school, leads into the continuity of the square outside, with green courtyards and play areas that flank it.

  • Classrooms

They were placed on the first floor, they could only be accessed by individual nuclei of stairs, bypassing the traditional corridor provision.

  • Fitness

This is on the side of the school, is the second formal axis construction.

  • Tower

Among the details that characterize it highlights the hidden water tank shaped tower.


The frames are attached directly to the main structure

The structure is defined by grid portals steel double height interval between 7 meters. The floors are made of prefabricated concrete slabs. Woodwork frames the facade are attached directly to the main structure and divided into modulators and closing approximately 1m x 0,5 m, which are installed on different types of windows, fixed sash or tilt.


All materials appearing as they were, unpainted, and left even the electrical and plumbing from view. The Smithson declared their intention to surrender standardized system of large items and opt for the use of English industrial production components.

The frame of the steel structure was designed pre-soldered, covered with tile floors and precast concrete.

  • Flooring

In soils have used different materials. In classrooms and workshops were placed in black plastic tiles or dark brown in the aisles terrazzo and wood floors in the main hall and gym. The courtyards and play areas were covered with grass and bare concrete slabs.

  • Facades
In building bricks were also used

Both in front and solid panels in the central hall, closing the view to the upstairs in the gym, in the end walls of the classrooms or on auxiliary buildings were used yellow brick viewed with touches of white layer to reduce its porosity.

On the facades that cover the area of the classroom, the facades were structured with glass panels of the same height as protected spaces, allowing natural light to enter, but also the heat from direct sun in summer and cold in winter, making conditions for students were not the desired for most of the year.

  • Carpentry

The door frames were of unpainted galvanized steel.