Architecture has brought about numerous well-known styles over the centuries. Many of them have stood the test of time, but some have caused heated discussions between admirers and critics. The best example of this is undoubtedly brutalism. This form of architecture exhibits the many uses of concrete and, at the same time, a form of emotionality. However, raw concrete structures are not for everyone; they often confuse the viewer.
We have known this type of architecture best since the 1950s. The name goes back to the French name béton brut, which means raw concrete. Most recently, the illustrated book Atlas of Brutalist Architecture pays homage in pictures and text to brutalism. The book shows more than 850 different buildings of this style, which can be found on every continent in the world. The striking features of the pictures are their apparent severity and emotional power.
Numerous Star Architects Were Inspired
Numerous well-known architects such as the star architect Le Corbusier have succumbed to concrete as a building material over the decades. What is more, Frank Lloyd Wright, Lous Kahn, Carlo Scarpa Marcel Breuer, and Lina Bo Bardi have also dedicated extraordinary buildings to brutalism. Some of the greatest examples of this architectural style include Hotel El Blok in Puerto Rico, Rozzol Melara district in Trieste, the Russian Embassy in Havana, the Sunset Chapel building in Acapulco, Bierpinsel in Berlin, and St Joseph’s Hospital in Washington.
Strict Shapes and Materials
If brutalism used to follow strict guidelines in the past, these have softened a little over time. Today the name stands for the dominant architecture between 1960 and the beginning of the 1980s. In the present, brutalism receives negative criticism due to the use of exposed concrete, which is the distinguishing feature of this form of architecture. The construction as well as simple geometric shapes are usually constructed and emphasized very roughly.
A Tribute to the Modern Industrialized Society
Originally, brutalism was associated with the post-war period in a particular way. That was evident in its expressiveness and the materials used. To a certain extent, it reflected the economic and mental state of countries after the Second World War. In this way, it became an international phenomenon, which has been documented by several expressions in numerous places around the world and remained a dominant fashion until the mid-1980s. Its proponents advocated that our modern industrialized society also needed art that was appropriately powerful.
Brutalism should stand for spiritual liberation and expand its viewers mindset. Here sensuality comes before commerce. After all, the French term brut combines a lot of emotions with several meanings: raw, bitter, honest, and rough. In the 1990s, the architectural style fell into disrepute. In many cases, people see brutalism as a kind of aesthetic vandalism. Rough concrete also contributed to this as it turned out to be not as durable as initially thought. The buildings were poorly maintained and thus gave the impression of constant deterioration.