Who Invented Brutalist Architecture?
Brutalist architecture, also called brutalism, is a type of architecture which first rose to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s. Although it has now largely fallen out of favour and has become unfashionable in recent decades, brutalism still has significant historical importance and influence.
The roots of brutalist architecture can be traced back to Switzerland in the 1940s. This is when architect Le Corbusier developed his vision for a new type of architecture which would emphasise functionality and minimalist design. Le Corbusier called this style of architecture ‘brutalism’, from the French word ‘beton brut’ meaning ‘raw concrete’.
Le Corbusier quickly gained recognition for his brutalist architecture, with the first brutalist-style buildings being constructed in Europe and the U.S. in the 1950s. While Le Corbusier was the inventor of brutalist architecture, other architects such as Walter Gropius and Louis Kahn soon adopted it as their own style and helped to develop it further.
Brutalism was developed with the intention of being a practical, utilitarian type of architecture which could be used in all kinds of public- and social – spaces, such as hospitals, universities, schools and museums. It was designed to be a plain and austere style of architecture which did not rely heavily on lavish materials or intricate details. It was also intended to be a modern style, so it made use of concrete, steel and glass, which were simple shapes and materials which would be relatively easy and cheap to construct.
One of the defining features of brutalism is that it uses concrete as the main material. Concrete was favoured by brutalist architects because of its strong, durable and visually arresting qualities. This, combined with the simple geometric shapes which were favoured by the brutalist architects, created a stark and imposing aesthetic which was both practical and visually arresting.
In its heyday, brutalist architecture was immensely popular, with many public and municipal buildings being built in the style. However, in recent decades it has become unfashionable, with many buildings being considered too ugly or out of date. Despite this, brutalism still has an influence on modern architects and architecture, with many architects looking to the style for inspiration for their contemporary works.
Why is Brutalist Architecture so Controversial?
The stark, imposing aesthetic of brutalist architecture often makes it a divisive and controversial topic, with people’s opinions on the style ranging from admiration to disgust.
One of the main criticisms which is often levelled against brutalism is that it is too austere and lacks any kind of aesthetic appeal. Critics argue that brutalism often looks ugly and out of date and fails to create any kind of emotionally attachment with the viewer. That being said, some people find a certain charm in the austerity of brutalist buildings, with many people admiring the bold and uncompromising visuals.
Another criticism which is often made of brutalist architecture is that it is not practical. Many buildings were designed in the brutalist style in the 1950s and 1960s and have not been properly maintained since then. This has led to a number of buildings becoming dilapidated and unsafe, as well as being too expensive to repair or maintain. This has led to a number of brutalist buildings being demolished in recent years, as they are considered too much of a liability.
What are the Benefits of Brutalist Architecture?
Despite its detractors, brutalist architecture still has many admirers and there are a number of benefits which can be associated with the style.
One of the main advantages of brutalist architecture is that it is timeless. It does not rely on the whims of fashion or trends and often looks just as good today as it did when it was first built. This has led to a resurgence in popularity for the style in recent years, with more people appreciating the stark and uncompromising look of brutalist buildings.
Brutalism is also praised for its functionality. Many buildings in the brutalist style were designed with functionality in mind, with a number of them being well-suited to their original intention. This means that many brutalist buildings are still in use today, such as universities, hospitals and other public or municipal buildings.
In addition to this, brutalism has also become an influence on modern architecture. Many contemporary architects have been inspired by the boldness and austerity of brutalist architecture and have incorporated elements of it into their own designs. This helps to ensure that its influence will remain, even if the style itself is largely unfashionable.
Who are the Key Exponents of Brutalism?
The key exponents of brutalism include Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and Louis Kahn.
Le Corbusier is widely considered to be the founder of brutalism. His works have become iconic, and his influence is still felt in the works of many contemporary architects. His most famous works include Notre Dame du Haut, the Unite d’Habitation in Marseille, France, and the Seagram Building in New York.
Walter Gropius was an influential architect and educator and one of the key exponents of brutalism. His most notable works are the Hsieh Residence in Wisconsin, U.S. and The Architects’ Collaborative in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He also had a major influence on modern architecture through the Bauhaus school of design.
Louis Kahn was another influential architect and educator who is closely associated with the brutalist style of architecture. Kahn is best known for his works Philadelphia City Hall and the Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was also a major influence on modern architecture, with his works setting the benchmark for contemporary design.
How has Brutalism Spread to Other Countries?
Since its introduction in the 1950s, brutalism has spread to many other countries across the world.
In the U.S., brutalism can be seen in many public buildings, such as the Hughes Airport Terminal in Houston and the State Office Building in Syracuse. In Europe, brutalist buildings can be found in a number of countries, such as the Stationsstrasse District in Berlin, the Pirelli Tower in Milan, and the Phillips Exeter Library in Exeter, England.
In Asia, brutalism is most prominent in countries such as India, Japan, and China. India is home to a number of brutalist buildings, such as the Dravidian and Oriental architectures of the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum in Bangalore. Similarly, China is home to a number of modern brutalist-style buildings, including the National Museum of China in Beijing and the China Central Television Headquarters in Beijing.
Brutalism has also spread to other continents, including Australia, South America, and Africa. In Australia, many buildings have been constructed in the brutalist style, such as the Melbourne City Square in Melbourne, Australia and the ANZAC War Memorial in Sydney. In South America, the style is most common in countries such as Brazil, with the Sao Paulo Cathedral in Sao Paulo and the Clube Juventude Portuguesa in Rio de Janeiro being prime examples of brutalist architecture. Finally, Africa has also embraced the style, with the Washington Park Mandela Park in South Africa, the Cité des Arts in Senegal and the Beit Eliyehu Synagogue in Ethiopia being examples of brutalist architecture in the region.
What is the Future of Brutalist Architecture?
The future of brutalism is uncertain. In recent years, there has been a resurgence in popularity for the style in some countries, as people have started to appreciate the bold and uncompromising aesthetics. This is particularly true in the U.S., where a number of cities, such as Phoenix and San Francisco have seen an increase in the number of brutalist buildings being constructed.
However, the future of brutalism is not all positive. In many other countries, brutalism has become increasingly unfashionable, with many people viewing the style as outdated and ugly. This has led to a number of brutalist buildings being demolished across the world in recent years, as they are deemed too expensive to maintain or repair.
Despite this, it is still possible to find examples of brutalism around the world. It is also likely that the style will continue to influence modern architects and designers, with many looking to the boldness and austerity of brutalism for inspiration. This means that while the popularity of the style may wax and wane, it is unlikely to disappear completely and could still be a powerful influence in architecture for many years to come.
The Debate Over Brutalism and Conservation
In recent years, there has been a growing debate about the fate of brutalist buildings. On the one hand, there are those who argue that brutalist buildings should be preserved, as they are an important part of architectural history and can teach us much about modern architecture. On the other hand, there are those who argue that brutalist buildings are simply too ugly and outdated to be worth preserving and should be demolished.
The debate over whether or not to preserve brutalist buildings has been raging for some time now and is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. Those who argue for the preservation of brutalist buildings argue that these buildings have great historical and cultural value, and should be preserved in order to maintain that value. In addition, they argue that by preserving these buildings we are preserving a part of history that should not be forgotten.
However, those who argue against preservation argue that preservation is a waste of money and resources and that demolition is the only way to ensure that these buildings do not become a drag on resources. They argue that these buildings are ugly, outdated and unappealing, and that there are more worthy recipients of funds and resources than these buildings.
Ultimately, the debate is likely to continue, with no clear answer in sight. It is likely that the decision on whether or not to preserve brutalist buildings will be made on a case-by-case basis, with some buildings being preserved and others not.
The Relevance of Brutalism to Modern Architecture
Despite its outmoded reputation, brutalism has had a major influence on modern architecture. Architects and designers have taken elements of brutalism and incorporated them into their own works, using the bold visuals and the uncompromising utilitarian aesthetic of brutalism as a source of inspiration.
The most notable example of this is the work of renowned architect Zaha Hadid. Hadid’s work has been heavily influenced by brutalism, which can be seen in her projects such as the Guangzhou Opera House in China and the Morpheus Hotel in Macau.
In addition to being an influence on modern architects, brutalism has also been used as a source of inspiration for other forms of art, such as fashion and film. The 2016 sci-fi horror film ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ featured a set fully inspired by brutalist architecture, as did the 2017 videogame ‘Prey’. Additionally, fashion designers such as Martine Rose and Vetements have used elements of brutalism in their designs.
Ultimately, while brutalism may no longer be fashionable in the world of architecture, its influence can still be seen in a number of areas. From modern architecture to fashion and film, the bold visuals and uncompromising utilitarian aesthetic of brutalism are still inspiring and influential.