The Joy Of Concrete


The coastal fringes of Norfolk aren’t where you’d perhaps expect to find the “world’s very first new brutalist building” designed by “two of the most controversial figures in modern British architecture, Peter and Alison Smithson”, however despite your expectations that’s what you would find.

Hunstanton Secretary Modern as it was originally named (somewhat coincidentally it’s now called Smithdon High School and not because of some kind of typographical accident) is not only a hugely significant modern building, but also the place where I went to school. Which in turn is why Mr John Grindrod, author of the just published ‘Concretopia – A Journey around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain’ spoke to me earlier this year.

I assumed that despite John’s best efforts my attempts to be both erudite and informed about the time I spent in this Grade II listed building would end up on the cutting room floor (or whatever the literary equivalent is). This has proved not to be the case, which I have to admit to being inordinately made up by. Not wholly because of the vanity of seeing my name in print (although that’s nice) but more by the fact that it appears in such illustrious company.

I’ve only had the book for less than a day so haven’t had the chance to read it from cover to cover, but the bits I have seen are very good indeed and suggest that when I do have the time to read further I won’t be disappointed.

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