Lot no. 1, an original collection of concrete

August 12, 2005

When they were students they may well have been seen drunkenly dragging stolen street signs back to their rooms, but it seems that respectable graduates are prepared to pay for such trophy items.

Former students of the University of East Anglia raided their wage packets to bid for artefacts from an ugly 1970s hall of residence before the bulldozers were sent in.

Parts of Waveney Terrace, a concoction of glamorous grey breeze blocks with no mod cons, were put up for auction in July. Sentimental alumni competed to purchase doorplates, two huge signs and three floorplans.

The prize item, which sold for £185, was a trendy wire-framed Bertoia chair - missing its leather cushion after a toboganning incident on Waveney Hill.

Paul Atterbury, former occupant of room AHM69 and now an expert on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow , described the chair as a "design icon".

He said: "I must have passed the Bertoia chairs many times without giving them more than a cursory glance. Had we known how famous the design was to become, I am sure some of them might have disappeared."

Maresa Malhotra, the university's alumni and development officer, organised the web auction after receiving requests from from students to purchase breeze blocks they had signed when they had graduated.

She said: "It never was the prettiest of buildings, but there was a kitchen on every corridor and people said the camaraderie was fantastic."

One block is still standing, but it too faces demolition next year. Ms Malhotra is delighted by the £600 she has raised for a local cancer charity and is urging builders to salvage what they can.

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