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University of East Anglia, Norwich (England)

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[Univeristy of East Anglia] by Ivan Sache, 4 September 2004


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About the Flag

The homepage of the University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich, says:

"UEA admitted its first 87 undergraduate students – in English Studies and Biological Sciences in 1963. People in Norwich had begun to talk about setting up a university in the city as long ago as last century, but it wasn’t until 1960, as the post-war ‘bulge’ generation was bringing about an expansion in higher education, that the University of East Anglia finally got the go-ahead.

UEA’s academic thinking was distinctive from the word go. The choice of ‘Do Different’ as the University’s motto was a deliberate signal that it was going to look at new ways of providing university education. At the heart of UEA innovative thinking was the principle of interdisciplinarity – that is, where related subjects are studied in combination with each other – and that principle shaped the setting up of the Schools of Studies. UEA has continued to be academically innovative throughout its development: recently, for instance, we were one of the first universities in Britain to introduce a modular, semester system for degree courses, providing even more flexible ways for students to combine units of teaching towards a degree.

The city had donated what was the Earlham municipal golf course for the site of the campus, and traces of the fairways can still be seen around the grounds today. In 1962, Denys Lasdun (who designed the National Theatre) was appointed as UEA’s founding architect, and was asked to produce an integrated physical design which would reflect and complement the academic structure. It was Lasdun who designed the University’s core buildings including the monumental Teaching Wall, the raised walkways, the central Square and, most famously, the striking ‘ziggurats’ of Norfolk and Suffolk Terrace. His plan was that no building on campus should be more than five minutes’ walk away from any other – an intention that has been honoured as far as possible despite the building expansion over the last 10 years.

Lasdun’s legacy also includes the acronym ‘UEA’, now enshrined in the University’s logo, as that is how he designated it in his early plans and drawings. The University motto ‘Do Different’ comes from the old Norfolk saying, “people in Norfolk do things different”. The Coat of Arms records the University’s association with East Anglia, the City of Norwich and the first Chancellor, Lord Mackintosh.

The most striking, and perhaps best known, of all of Lasdun’s contributions to UEA was the pyramidal residential accommodation for students which he called ‘Ziggurats’ (after a type of pyramidal temple tower built in ancient Mesopotamia). The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, designed by Sir Norman Foster, opened in 1978 following the gift of Sir Robert and Lisa Sainsbury’s magnificent art collection. The Crescent Wing was added in 1991. The Sainsbury Centre has won international acclaim for the breadth and quality of its exhibitions, as well as many architectural awards."

UEA has a coat of arms and a flag. The flag is hoisted over the big tower dominating the main building of the university. The description of the coat of arms is the following: "The University motto ‘Do Different’ comes from the old Norfolk saying, “people in Norfolk do things different”. The Coat of Arms records the University’s association with East Anglia, the City of Norwich and the first Chancellor, Lord Mackintosh." The flag is a banner of arms: it shows on a blue field a  white castle above three yellow crowns. The flag is very similar to the flag of Norwich, recalled by the Norman castle. The three crowns on blue are the traditional arms of East Anglia, which are identical to the lesser arms of Sweden, from where the East Anglian royal dynasty, the Wuffingas, were supposed to have originated. As for the municipal flag of Norwich, the design of the charges on the flag is simplified compared with the coat of arms.

Ivan Sache, 4 September 2004