The stunning photographs from 1939 highlight the beauty and modernism of Impington Village College. Under the imaginative auspices of Henry Morris, Walter Gropius designed the Village College for Impington with the support of Maxwell Fry. The previous Village Colleges in Cambridgeshire had been designed by local authority architects, but Impington was to be the 'jewel in the crown', and with the support of the Lawn Road Flats Morris secured the architect fees needed.
The Gropius-Fry design for Impington Village College was prepared in summer 1936. The innovative design included features never before seen in school buildings, or indeed in any British architecture. Disillusion and delay ensued, with Morris writing in 1937 that the Gropius plan was far too expensive, “impracticable and out of the question”. Gropius had now left for America, frustrated at not getting commissions (particularly his rejection by Christ’s College) and (it is said) at not getting the professorship in the Cambridge Department of Architecture. Revised designs and the construction of IVC from December 1937 – August 1939 were supervised by Fry. Much of the finer detail around the construction was the work of Fry, but the overall design and concept remained true to Gropius' vision.
Original sketch by Gropius.
Plan from October 1936.
The radical design of Impington Village College laid out a model for school and community buildings that has since been replicated around the world. The Building has been celebrated by many notable figures including the British history of architecture professor Sir Nikolaus Pevsner (author of the 46-volume series guides The Buildings of England) who describes it as “One of the best buildings of its date in England, if not the best”.
The building continues to draw attention from across the globe, and in 2014 the 20th Century Society selected Impington Village College to feature in the 100 Buildings project. The collection of images from 1939 were taken in conjunction with articles written in The Architect's Journal and The Architectural Review. They show different perspective of the College, and the clarity of the photographs really represents the fresh ideas of the architectural design, as well as being a stunning piece of artwork in their own right.