Tuesday, 7 February 2017


Blogs about Brutalism

Brutalism has five styles that I can identify based on commonly occurring design features which in Brutalism are also construction features. There is the Cubic form (the main focus of this blog), not to be confused with the art movement called Cubism. I have already written extensively about the Angled Corner form of Angular Brutalist style (Y axis and X axis angles respectively), which also utilize the Corporate or Rectangular form (horizontal balconies).

Angular Brutalist Building
a lot of examples are difficult to sub-catagorise because they cross boundaries ...
... technically Cubic style with additional angled features as structural design element

As soon as you add round bits it becomes Brutal Deco. Brutal Deco does not necessarily have to have round bits, there are classic examples of Brutal Deco with no round bits at all. Below are some examples of normal, non brutalist Art Deco architecture so that you will see why Brutalism becomes Brutal Deco as soon as round bits are added.

Art Deco, not brutalism
Is this Art Deco or Brutal Deco ?
 Yes it requires a trained eye to recognize the difference. Note how both buildings are red brick.

Brutal Deco

Brutal Deco

Then there is 60s modernist influenced Modernism Abstract Brutalism which like all 1960s modernism is fucking ugly and deserves to die on the simple basis that the facade detracts from the infrastructure. The emphasis of quality brutalist architecture it that is all about purity of  infrastructure speaking for itself, no frills and bells. 

City Hall, Kurashiki, Japane, 1958-60 by Kenzo Tange
An example of appalling, 60s modernist influenced Abstract Brutalism, see the galling irregular cube-within-cube nonsense making sure anyone who dwells in this space is going to feel sick. Let there be no more of this abuse of an otherwise perfectly beautiful aesthetic movement. There is no need for it. The same building with more minimalist panel decor would have been a superior construction. Thankfully there is time yet to cement over the insult.


Of course all four sub-styles, most especially Deco Brutalism, have many assymmetrical features inherited from the bolt-on Frankenstein extensions of Victorian Gothic Revivalism. It is necessary to break up the monotony of square boxes in grey - and it is here that the true beauty and genius of very unique constructs is to be enjoyed.

The key to Brutalism is concrete. Concrete and Brutalism are intrinsically bound. While you can have one without the other and many examples of both do exist, it is a lot like having sex by yourself compared with sharing pleasure time with your perfect partner.

It is here we see how elegantly light plays against simple concrete with use of slats as a necessary variant of the in the cubic form of Brutalism. 

the stairs are anlged, the main body of the building is not, it is vertical slats)

ceiling slats with rectangular horizontal balconies)

Below are examples of classic Cubic Form:

Cubic Form inspired by Minimalism

Cubic Form Minimalism

The early 21st century has seen emergence of many cross-overs between Brutalism proper and the different thing completely of Minimalism.  A lot of people are incorrectly ascribing minimalist designs as brutalist due to the current trend in popularity of the brutal bandwagon. Were the two pictures above made of wood and brick they would hardly be regarded as brutalic at all. The styles are converging.

Below are examples of the rectangular or corporate form:

note this essentially corporate form has also features of angular form
stretching that fine line between modernism and brutalism proper

Simplicity of Living - the Minimalist Aesthetic as Lifestyle

cubic style with many traditional Japanese architectural features

And then ... there is Brutalist Sculpture, which is an entity in its own right, sharing similarities and great differences with the architectural forms involved in building dwelling spaces. Brutalism, especially a lot of post-modern minimalist examples of cubic form, is all about the space as much as it is about the structure and materials.

Hamish Grace wrote an interesting blog about brutalism in computer games.

Pictures used non-profit for educational purposes within international fair use policy.

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