In Review

Superstructures at the Sainsbury Centre

The new exhibition at the University of East Anglia's gallery will showcase stunning examples of high-tech architecture from 1960–1990

In a decade that saw exponential growth in technology and computing, the 1970s ushered in an optimistic and forward-thinking outlook that permeated across a wide range of sectors. Perhaps one of the most permanent marks left on our landscape is the resulting high-tech architecture, which was born from disillusionment with the standardised buildings of the time combined with a drive to apply new techniques, developments and materials adopted from engineering and other fields.

Among the most important examples is the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, opened on the University of East Anglia's Norwich campus in 1978, then one of the first major public buildings designed by Norman Foster. It would come to exemplify many of the hallmarks of the genre, cutting a futuristic figure with its exposed steel framework, expanse of glass and flexible use of space.

The gallery is celebrating its 40th year with a new exhibition delving into its design and creation, as well as that of other landmark projects associated with high-tech architecture. As part of Superstructures: The New Architecture 1960-90, a new three-metre-long model of the Sainsbury Centre will be joined by models on loan from international collections, and counted among them will be the Reliance Controls Factory by Team 4 (Su Brumwell, Wendy Cheesman, Normal Foster and Richard Rogers), Nicholas Grimshaw's Waterloo International Rail Station and the Pompidou Centre by Rogers and Renzo Piano. The latter is perhaps the most famous example of 'Bowellism' – bringing the inside out – with its brightly coloured exterior network of exposed plumbing and electricals maximising interior space.

The exhibition will also explore the work of those figures that influenced the protagonists of high-tech, including Buckminster Fuller, Jean Prouve, Charles and Ray Eames and Cedric Price, bringing together a diverse display spanning furniture and product design to film, photography, drawings and paintings.

Superstructures: The New Architecture 1960-90 is at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts from 24 March to 2 September; scva.ac.uk

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