Hunstanton Secondary Modern School, Norfolk: competition design illustrating elevations to the playing fields (top) and Downs Road (bottom), 1950
Designer: Alison and Peter Smithson
© RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections
Beginning in the 1940s, architects promoted 'finger planning' for schools. This design featured classroom units, usually prefabricated, along long, spoke-like corridors. This layout, similar to Fry and Gropius's Impington Village College, provided adequate natural light and ventilation, but also demanded more materials and a larger site.
Local authorities in Hunstanton, determined to cut down school costs, held a competition for the design of a new middle school. The Smithsons' scheme, selected from 56 competition entries, is characterised by simplicity of form, bands of glazing panels and unadorned industrial materials. This elevation highlights the broad and low form of the school that echoes the flat East Anglian location. The compact, 'Miesian'-style building's classrooms and functional spaces surround a courtyard.