Stephen Adutt, Architect
Professor Stephen Adutt was an architect and Head of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Brighton until his retirement in 1998. He writes here on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the first Brighton School of Art in 2009:
“In my beginning was my end.
“Two snapshots follow:
“1963 I am 31, a London County Council architect commuting to Brighton to teach one day a week in the School of Architecture first year, up in the attic studios of the old College of Art, Grand Parade.
“The air is heady, the floors paint covered. We are indeed all collegiate, students, technicians and tutors together, painters, illustrators, sculptors, architects, bound by a striving for Design. We all meet a lot, via joint projects, crits, exhibitions, coffee breaks, the pub. The place is small. There are 12 students in Architecture One. Staff student ratios are c. 1:6. We are not as yet in a big brother institution. Our employer, the East Sussex County Council, leaves us alone, so our framework contains only our Art relative to the world outside college. There are no mission statements, no computers, no emails, no ‘research’. Within a year I become full time lecturer, annual salary £3,250, a sum which equates to the cost of a modest house.
“1998 I am 66, about to retire as Professor and Head of Architecture and Interior Design.
“In the 35 intervening years of my tenure, we have all been College, Poly and Uni members and I have had nine job titles. Architecture has been located on five separate sites, among them St Johns Carlton Hill, with its studio coal fires, its open gurgling rainwater channels in the corridors.
“After a long interregnum during which we architects worked closely with structural and environmental engineers, builders and surveyors, and School is administratively about to rejoin what is now the Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton.”
Looking back? The biggest change was the accelerating rate of institutional change. The biggest surprise was that our ever growing institution never dictated to us but, instead, supported and encouraged, enabling the Architecture School to become national and international, thinking global while also still acting local.
“What stayed the same? Always practitioners who taught, teachers who practiced. Ideal for architectural education.
“Remembrances? People, of course. Dear talented colleagues, many now dead. More than a thousand students whose thesis designs I remember better than their names. Then that wonderful supporting group of cheery cleaners, canteen ladies, janitors (who could forget Michael in his kiosk at Grand Parade?).
“The ten years since ’98? I became Prof Emeritus, the pointer to the grave? Not yet. After briefly teaching at Yale, I became an architect again, designing with a major UK architectural firm.”
Stephen Adutt, 2009