Skidelsky Building

When Robert Skidelsky attended Brighton College during the 1950s, it would have looked much as it does now.

One new feature, that was certainly not in place back then, is a strikingly modern multi-purpose block on the west side of the site. The four storey building is not large in comparison to some of the huge Victorian structures nearby but its unashamedly modern styling ensures that it stands out for a different reason.

Black brick, straight lines and large expanses of glass characterise the exterior of the new structure which was designed by the architectural practice Kirkland Fraser Moor. The ground floor is dedicated to Design Technology and the first floor to English. An office at the very top overlooking a large common room gives teachers their own space which is not too far away from the action.

The interior includes a number of harsh stylistic details such as exposed concrete and unpainted steel conduits. Industrial styling does not usually lead to cosiness yet, in this instance, that is exactly the result. Calming views of the sea to the south and racecourse and allotments to the north-west certainly help to that end as does an abundance of quality timber, such as that of the windows and staircase.

The spot was previously occupied by the old Art School which was demolished during the summer of 2009. The opening took place in October 2010 when an old friend of Brighton College returned to carry out the official ceremony. Having been made a life peer in 1991, Robert Skidelsky returned as Lord Skidelsky to open the new building bearing his name – the Skidelsky Building.

Skidelsky never actually went away. As Chairman of the Governors, the great historian, writer and politician oversees the management of Brighton College’s funds and property.

Not all of the additions which have been carried out at Brighton College since the 1950s will stand the test of time. The corner building on the south-west corner is one such example which demonstrates that ‘fitting in’ should not be the foremost priority. Fortunately, the Skidelsky Building has a level of architectural integrity which many of the others lack.

Over fifty years have passed since Lord Skidelsky studied at Brighton College and the best bits have changed little in that time. Hopefully the Skidelsky Building will look much as it does currently in the event of a follow-up column – fifty years from now.