In Boston, Brutalism is tied closely to City Hall, but the infamous building is far from the only “concrete monstrosity” in the city. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, top architects from around the world took advantage of a rebuilding Boston to design and build what they saw as futuristic, expressive works of art. Brutalism hasn’t gained many fans since then, but public opinion may slowly be changing.
Boston’s City Hall reminds me a lot of the old Central Library in Birmingham (UK, since demolished in 2016) thanks to its inverted ziggurat structure.
I love LEGO® and I love brutalism so this is a match made in heaven for me.
Arndt Schlaudraff is a self-proclaimed “Berlinist, Brutalist, Modernist, and Legoist” and his Instagram account is filled with wonderful constructions all real and no 3D renderings. His buildings come with beautiful lighting inside and out, creating an atmosphere not often associated with the harshness of brutalism.
from the curved concrete balconies of ‘les choux de créteil’ to oscar niemeyer’s ‘bourse du travail’, ‘brutalist paris’ documents the movement’s most significant examples in and around the french capital. back in 2017, blue crow media commissioned robin wilson and nigel green of photolanguage to research, write and shoot photography for the brutalist paris map. since the map’s publication, through their research, writing and photography, photolanguage have continued to draw attention to brutalist architecture across the city and its suburbs.
Tinted with melancholy, his resulting photographic series, Souvenir d’un Futur, exposes these unsung suburban areas but reveals a beauty behind the modernist utopia that had so much promise and wonder. A project that was four years in the making, Laurent combines a mixture of sensitive portraits of older residents along with beautiful architectural photographs that offer pleasing geometric compositions of what feels like a crumbling, ghostly world.
Kronental said he was inspired by his time living in China and that’s where he discovered photography.
“The big cities of this territory stunned me by their gigantic size, their tentacular immoderation, their paradoxes, their metamorphosises, their contrasts and the way the human being lives in this abundant and overpopulated town planning.”
There’s a lot of brutalism in Kronental’s shots interspersed with the people who live in and around the buildings. Old, pale, and grey seems to be the running theme, intentional or otherwise.
In 2017, ARTiculations made a video arguing the case for Brutalist architecture, a polarising style at the best of times.
For the most part, Brutalism was a favoured style of public or institutional buildings such as government facilities, libraries, universities, museums, and social housing. Concrete is a product that is relatively inexpensive, plentiful and accessible. The heavy and enclosed building envelope with limited glazing made it easier for climate control, thus making it economically sensible and practical for institutional use, which in turn also symbolized a degree of modesty and public accountability.
Personally, I love Brutalism but it’s a problematic fave. A lot of the buildings were made poorly and cut corners for the sake of ideology rather than to make peoples’ lives better, per its intentions. If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that intentions mean little when the impact is massive and long-standing. You could even say 2020 has been brutal itself.
Post-war Eastern Europe went through radical change at the hands of communism. Brutalism married up with the harshest sociopolitical conditions and defined many landscapes, particularly in countries like Yugoslavia.
It was really an important contribution to create some kind of a life space for citizens in Yugoslavia. The end of World War II, there was a moment of destruction and trauma but then was transformed into a great source of energy for the reconstruction of the country. Hundreds of thousands of young people contributed to the construction of new railway lines, highways, dams, factories. The war really had left deep scars that produced an enormous forward-looking utopian vision of a better world. And architecture played a fundamental role.
What is 20 square metres? It’s 1/357th of a soccer pitch, about 1/267th of an American football field, and less than 1/10th of a tennis court. Now imagine a cafe of that size. And it’s in Shanghai. Then call it Fine.
What is Fine?
Located in the Huashan Lu neighbourhood is a pastry café called Fine 西洋果子店 (literally translated as Fine Western Fruit Shop in English). Despite the misleading name, Fine is part of an “eponymous hospitality chain which runs Japanese retro-style cafés and shops in the city” (thanks to Superfuture for the info).
Brutal wooden minimalism
The rustic style is thanks to local architects Atelier A with a unique concave triangle entrance, adorned with shabby chic painting and dark varnish.
The inside design is much the same, with behind the counter (and the counter itself) full of dark olive kernel wood panelling. For the customer side, it’s all exposed brick and flaking plaster, with suspended lights. It’s like weathered 19th-century apothecary meets brutalism but if someone hated it and went to town on the walls with a pneumatic drill.
Fine’s menu offers a variety of cakes and biscuits, soft drinks and a range of tea options.
If you haven’t noticed already, I love modernism and brutalism. I’ve even got a Twitter account dedicated to the movements. So when I saw this short film, I had to share it.
Soviet Modernism. Brutalism. Post-modernism. is a book that looks into the structures and buildings in Ukraine from 1955 to 1991, when the former Soviet nation declared independence. The short film is set in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, where the infrastructure is diverse and brutal as hell in all honesty.
It’s been nearly 30 years since the break up of the Soviet Union but so much of Ukraine’s architecture act as monumental reminders of a past era. The cold concrete, mottled in mildew and other environmental debris, are bittersweet in context and harsh flashbacks to others. But however people perceive them, they might not be here for much longer. Wanting to remove the Soviet stigma attached to the buildings, many are left to rot or even demolished.
The name Carte Montréal Béton just sounds great on its own. It is, of course, the French name for Concrete Montreal Map, the latest brutalist map from Blue Crow Media.
It’s said that Montreal became a canvas for concrete architecture during the early 20th century, with a peak during Expo 67 which the below Habitat 67 was built for. Designed by Moshe Safdie, it’s a brutalist landmark and one of Canada’s most famous pieces of modern architecture.
The company have already made maps for major cities such as London, Boston, New York, and Paris. Montreal has an abundance of brutalist buildings and photographer Raphaël Thibodeau brings all 56 of them to life in monochrome.
Australian brutalist fans can rejoice as Concrete Melbourne Map is out later this summer.
Blue Crow Media are publishers in London who started out making a series of food and drink city guides, before branching out to architectural maps. Their Brutalist maps are now all the rage, covering world cities such as Boston, New York, Paris, and Berlin.
I adore these maps and I hope to get the London map soon. My last few trips to London on the Underground have involved me traipsing through the city looking for as many brutalist buildings as my legs would allow. This map is essential.
The brutalist bookends are a concrete take on the Mayan pyramids (although they’re very close to being ziggurats).
An architectural twist on functional accessories, reimagined in stylish concrete. Subtle in colour but crisp in form, Klemens Schillinger’s Landmarks collection evokes a certain understated cool. Perfect for those who want dimensions to rule style: each step is an extruded offset of the footprint that comes before it.
I have two books on brutalism on my bookshelf and these bookends would be perfect for them. I’ll give it some thought.
The idea of brutalism is normally reserved for architecture as Wikipedia defines:
Brutalist architecture is a movement in architecture that flourished from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, descending from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century. The term originates from the French word for “raw” in the term used by Le Corbusier to describe his choice of material béton brut (raw concrete). British architectural critic Reyner Banham adapted the term into “brutalism” (originally “New Brutalism”) to identify the emerging style.
UPDATE: *sigh* once again, another site has been taken down or otherwise defunct. Not sure why but the site is covered with a Brutalist Websites Are Dead logo. If you’re good with Dev Tools, you can get rid of it and still navigate the site but it’s a shame. Then again, a lot of the websites on there were questionable from a brutalist design perspective.
UPDATE 2: The watermark is gone but the webmaster told me the site isn’t active and remains as an archive.