The Twentieth Century Society

100 Buildings 100 Years

Impington Village College, Gropius Building
Impington Village College, Gropius Hall facade

1939: Impington Village College, Cambridgeshire

Type: Education
Architect: Walter Gropius
Location: New Road, Impington, Cambridgeshire. CB24 9LX

The remarkable Grade 1 Listed Building of Impington Village College was born from the meeting of two visionary thinkers. Founder of the Bauhaus movement Walter Gropius fled Nazi Germany in 1934, when he came to London to join an architectural partnership with Maxwell Fry. At the same time the innovative educationalist Henry Morris was negotiating investment and land to build three new Village Colleges in Cambridgeshire.

Morris believed that the Village College building should act as ‘the silent teacher’, offering a welcoming and inspiring space for local communities to learn and socialise. When he met Gropius in 1934 there was no doubt in his mind as to who should design the buildings at Impington. Gropius’ radical plan brought new consideration for the social impact of the built environment, and laid out a model for school and community buildings that has since been replicated around the world. The British history of architecture professor Sir Nikolaus Pevsner describes Impington Village College as “One of the best buildings of its date in England, if not the best”. Today as I sit in this stunning building, I am inspired by the vision of these great men whose ideologies are as relevant now as they were 75 years ago.

by Rob Campbell

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