Reviewing Brutalism Before And Brutalism Nowadays Cultural Studies Essay

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In the past century the era of Brutalism and New Brutalism set the ground for long-term studies from historians and architects. Brutalism was most used during the mid Twentieth Century after the World War II when countries were seeking for faster constructing and designing methods and less expensive than the usual ones, for residences, government buildings and so forth. In addition, many architects chose the brutalism style even if they had no budget limits.

The English architects Alison and Peter Smithson coined the idiom in 1954, from the French béton brut, or "raw concrete", a turn of phrase used by Le Corbusier to express the poured board-marked concrete with which he constructed many of his post World War II buildings. The term gained wide prevalence when the British architectural critic Reyner Banham used it in the title of his 1966 book, "The New Brutalism: Ethic or Aesthetic?", to describe a by then established come together of architectural approaches, predominantly in Europe. Banham followed this movement closely, which has also been accredited to Le Corbusier, who Banham quoted in "The New Brutalism". In the article, Banham tried to give a rough idea of the main system of belief of "New Brutalism", which he stated as being "1.) Memo ability as an Image 2.) Clear Exhibition of Structure 3.) Valuation of Materials". The first item introduced Banham's perception of "image ability", which he further described to mean "something that is visually valuable, but not necessarily by the standards of classical aesthetics." The New Brutalists, he wrote, understood the obligation for great architecture to possess this "image ability", and honestly constructed form, an action the Functionalists had tried to hide behind excuses of structure and utility. To Banham, therefore, the New Brutalists buildings were at once "imaginable" and "ethical". Further more New Brutalism is an architectural and urban theory, it could be stated that New Brutalism and Brutalism are two different movements but often have terms that can be used interchangeably. Also the members of the New Brutalism say that it is more related to the theoretical reform of the CIAM (International Congress of Modern Architecture).

Brutalist buildings are usually formed with striking blockish, geometric, and repetitive shapes and often revealing the textures of the wooden forms used to shape the material, which is normally rough, unadorned poured concrete. Brutalism, as an architectural style, was also associated with a social utopian ideology, which tended to be supported by its designers, especially Peter and Alison Smithson, near the height of the style. The failure of positive communities to form early on in some Brutalist structures, possibly due to the natural urban decay of the post World War II period, especially in the United Kingdom, led to the combined unpopularity of both the ideology and the architectural style. Another common theme in brutalist designs is the exposition of the building's functions ranging from their structure and services to their actual human use in the exterior of the building. In other words, Brutalist style is "the celebration of concrete." In the Boston City Hall (Figure 1), strikingly different and projected portions of the building indicate the special nature of the rooms behind those walls, such as the mayor's office or the city council chambers. From another perspective of this theme, the design of the Hunstanton School (Figure 2, Figure 3) included placing the facility's water tank, a normally hidden service feature, in a prominently placed and visible tower.

(Figure 1) Boston City Hall, part of Government Center, Boston, Massachusetts

Gerhardt Kallmann and N. Michael McKinnell, 1969

(Figure 2) The Hunstanton School by The Smithsons, 1956

(Figure 3) The Hunstanton School by The Smithsons, 1956 Interior images of the changing rooms of the gym. The water pipes put down the water opening into the drain in the ground.

Critics make a case that this conceptual disposition of Brutalism makes the style inhospitable and unforthcoming, as a replacement of being integrating and shielding, as its proponents wished-for.

At Hunstanton School, the Smithsons made a desirable quality of the construction procedure of the building, structural and service elements were left open to the elements and the plain steel and glass frame gave the building a very thin outer shell. This "truth to materials" method was anti-aesthetic, but the Smithsons believed more straightforward and true to Modernism's basic main beliefs. Reynar Banham dubbed the school 'the New Brutalism', a society that intended, in his words, to "make the whole conception of the building plain and understandable". No secrecy, no impracticality, no obscurities about purpose and circulation. In France, Le Corbusier was also experimenting with new ways of using the Modernists favorite material, concrete. His béton brut ("raw concrete"), system characterized his Unite d'Habitation in Marseilles (Figure 4, Figure 5, Figure 6) a giant housing block with shops and other facilities built into its domestic streets. The concrete exterior is bush-hammered to create a pebbled effect. Other versions of this technique engage revealing the shuttering from which the concrete was poured. Le Corbusier additional experimented with the Brutalist method in his Monastery of Saint Marie de la Tourette (Figure 7).

(Figure 4) Le Corbusier's, Unite d'Habitation, 1952, Hallway

(Figure 5) Le Corbusier's, Unite d'Habitation, 1952

(Figure 6) Le Corbusier's, Unite d'Habitation, 1952

(Figure 7) Le Corbusier's, Monastery of Saint Marie de la Tourette, 1960

In Britain, Brutalist buildings often seemed tough, hard, and hardnosed. The Park Hill Estate in Sheffield (Figure 8), the Hayward Gallery on the SouthBank (Figure 9), the Smithsons' Robin Hood Gardens housing estate (Figure 10), Ernő Goldfinger's Trellick Tower (Figure 11), and Basil Spence's tower blocks in Glasgow's Gorbals (Figure 12), are all large-scale celebrations of the sculptural character of concrete. But the honesty in the Brutalist behavior of materials means that these buildings are often well thought-out to be simply ugly, and what's more, have not proved resilient to the crippling social problems, which spread in the 1970s in particular. With many Brutalist buildings, the feeling exists that the needs of expressing an architectural ideal comes before the needs of the human beings who have to use them. By the time the criticism against Modernism was in full move backward and forward in the 1970s, Brutalist buildings often bear the impact of the criticism.

(Figure 8) Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith, Park Hill Estate in Sheffield, 1961

(Figure 9) Dennis Crompton, Warren Chalk and Ron Herron, Hayward Gallery on the SouthBank, 1968

(Figure 10) Alison and Peter Smithson, Robin Hood Gardens housing estate, 1972

(Figure 11) Ernő Goldfinger, Trellick Tower, 1972

(Figure 12) Basil Spence's tower blocks in Glasgow's Gorbals, 1968

Even though the word Brutalism comes from the French word for rough concrete (béton brut), a good judgment of brutality is also not compulsory by this style. Buildings designed in this style are usually formed with out of the ordinary blockish, geometric, and monotonous shapes. The structure is more often not heavy and unprocessed with roughly molded surfaces, more often than not out in the open concrete. The smooth texture of glass for windows and doors creates an eye-catching difference. Most windows do not open, and the building is comprehensively climate-controlled. The design of the building is for the most part dependant on the shape and assignment of the various room lots. Outlines are fairly complex and outer surface walkways are emphasized.

Standard facial appearance of Brutalism consist of:

An exterior façade combined with a mixture of geometric forms and contradicting shapes

Volumes that project horizontally and vertically

Walls and formation prepared with concrete with irregular concrete surfaces left open to the elements in the interior as well as on the outer surface

Windows that are lower-level, the use of glass is minimized, especially at ground level

Interiors that leave ducts, pipes, and further mechanical devises out in the open

More or less easy to construct and easy to preserve, these new buildings were missing the very thin outer shell of early International style buildings. Being put-on largely out of raw concrete, they were often seen as a instant and easy way to build long-term buildings in the 1960s and 1970s. Brutalism was a reaction to the glass curtain wall that was overtaking institutional and moneymaking architecture in the 1960s. The style originated in England, but its design rapidly spread all the way through the world, as it created an attractive and quite reasonably priced result to weather and climate control circumstances in large buildings, as well as providing a bring to an end that was less in a weak position to vandalism. The 1960s and 1970s were years of great development in universities and public buildings, and this is where the Brutalism style is most often found. The thin line between brutalism and usual modernism is not for all time apparent since concrete buildings are so widespread and run the whole range of modern styles. Designs, which hug the brutality of concrete or the heavy minimalism of its natural forms, are considered Brutalism. Other materials, as well as brick and glass, can be used in Brutalism (like the Hunstanton School by The Smithsons in Figure 2) if they can be a factor to a block-like result similar to the powerfully expressed concrete forms of early Brutalism. While the starting point of Brutalism is generally credited to the Le Corbusier, the American architect Paul Rudolph (Figure 13) designed some recognizable and well-known buildings of the Brutalist style. One of the greatest supporters of Brutalism, in spite of this, was the firm John Portman and Associates, which designed more than a few vast reception area hotels, and office clusters acknowledged for their fabulous spatial effects, together with the Bonaventure Hotel (Figure 14) in downtown Los Angeles. In Orange County, William Pereira designed one of the most unique buildings constructed in the late 1960s on the UC Irvine campus (Figure 15) in the Brutalist style.

Brutalism had been bombard with severe critics during the early 80's. Much of the disapproval comes, not only from the designs of the buildings, but also from the fact that concrete facades don't get older well in a moist environment, overcast naval typical weather, such as that of northwestern Europe, rust leakage from the steel reinforcing bars and sometimes, even with moss and lichens and it is even becoming marked with water stains. It has taken a long time, but some communities are identifying that Brutalist buildings are not significant to renovate them and they should be demolished. Especially in communities that are keen to go and make way for newer, more by tradition leaning district structures. In the face of an emerging modernist positive reception pressure group and the well-known achievement that some of this style's progeny have had, many others have been or are slated to be demolished. The latest example of a Brutalist structure that was chosen to be demolished and put out of its misery, is the Humanities Building at the University of Wisconsin Madison (Figure 16), which was build in1969. In the University's 2005 Campus Master Plan, the officials determined to knock down the building, alongside with other in a similar way campus. Further more, the Humanities Building had reduced airing, tight windows, leaning base and cantilevered upper floors that you could feel that you were in a bomb protection facility. The building is purely not designed as well as it should for an atmosphere conductive to education.

(Figure 16) Harry Weese, Humanities Building at the University of Wisconsin Madison, 1969

In addition, the brutalist movement was dead by the mid 1980's. So is the brutalist movement in fact dead or has it altered in terms of materiality, easy freely available use and pleasant ageing looks? Even Reyner Banham from his writings and critics had insignificant self-belief in Brutalism's forthcoming acknowledgment as more than an inconsequential incident in the olden times of the 20th century architecture. In both the senses, ethical and aesthetic, in which Brutalism came to be viewed, that estimate approximately was too unenthusiastic. The aesthetic aspect of Brutalism, assuming that the test of communal attraction has been met, follows in a straight line from material nature itself, if straightforward, socially admirable by classification. All over the known built world in the present day you can see works that agree or confront the issues that Brutalism brought to attention.

Today, in the 21st century Brutalism has started growing once again. To some extent different, in terms of materialism but more often than not the same in shape, scale, function, aesthetic characteristic and so on. Architects originating from Latin America have been stimulating the approach on a less significant scale in latest years. Brutalism has, a short time ago, experienced the most important revitalization in Israel, due to the supposed feeling of strength and confidence the style creates. With the creation of the translucent concrete called "LiTraCon" (Figure 17) a new Brutalist movement may be close by.

(Figure 17) Translucent concrete called "LiTraCon"

Further more one example of Brutalism in the 21st century is the "No. One Centaur Str." project designed by dRMM (Figure 18). Each one apartment house is well thought-out as a sizeable, wide-open double-height living area, with bordering bedrooms and stairs forming a shock absorber of the railway. The alteration of the traditional apartment plan responds to shifting living and functioning patterns of up to date urban households. The liberal volume of the units, materials and places formed, allows the renewal view of sustainable, long lasting, loose fit to be realized. The building was conceived as 'inside-out' and it looks to be a wooden coat larger than a concrete framework. With a closer examination you will find out that all is concrete. On the inside, walls are textured concrete. On the outside, they are clad with fibrous cement, mock-timber rain screen of augmenting size. Apart from situ concrete, all workings are prefabricated. "No. One Centaur Street" was nominated with quite a few awards in identification of its small but considerable involvement to London's housing agenda.

(Figure 18) No. One Centaur Street, dRMM, 2003

Another example is the Scottish Parliament (Figure 19) designed by Enric Miralles and was completed in 2004. Like Enric Miralles said "The Parliament should be able to reflect the land it represents. The building should arise from the sloping base of Arthur's seat and arrive into the city almost surging out of the rock." The Scottish Parliament is six floors high at the north end, stepping down to four floors at the south end. The windows are made from stainless steel, framed in oak, with lattice oak sunscreens on some of them. Each office at the Parliament is measured to be 15 square meter, its ceiling is a concrete barrel vault and build in oak furnishing. The ceiling weights 18 tones, a significant characteristic of the building, that it was cast off site and lifted into place. The construction of the parliament is a combination of pre-cast and in-situ cast concrete units. On the exterior the building is clad in a mixture of materials. Kemnay granite from Aberdeenshire is high up and sits at the side of darker granite from South Africa. The frame of the Debating Chamber Building is for the most part steel, clad in high quality pre-cast concrete panels. A double line of tall, slim steel columns, incased in concrete, rises from the underground store to hold up the floor of the debating chamber cantilevered out high above. The ceiling is made out of three concrete vaults. Each vault was cast on site and features Enric Miralles conceptual designs of the cross. All the out in the open concrete in the building is so fine that it has a silky-smooth shine on it. From the open space reaching from a glazed roof several floors in each of the three vaults allows natural light to break through the space. The flooring is a mixture of Kemnay granite and Caithness stone. The shell of the buildings is completed with reinforced concrete, which was cast on-site. The upside down boat formed roofs, are roofed in tern-coated stainless steel.

(Figure 19) Scotish Parliament, Enric Miralles, 2004

In conclusion, the brutalism style and period as we know it, during the 50's until the mid 70's, it has definitely transformed today. Everything that did not work during that period in terms of scale, shape, function, looks, the ageing factor of the materials and the actual materials used. Nowadays you observe designs based on the brutalism style, but without all those factors that made it unsuccessful during that period. Today in the 21st century brutalism architects use a large variety of materials that were not even taken in consideration during the 20th century, different scale is also used, you don't see only huge commercial buildings but in addition, brutalism style can be found in small residential buildings. Moreover, because of the new technology that has been developed since the brutalism period and the vast variety of materials that architects have in their knowledge, you could predict a new era of brutalism style is coming.