This Brutal World

Phaidon

Brutalism, or Brutalist Architecture, is aptly named.  There is nothing soft, friendly, or accommodating about it. It is stark, harsh, hard, powerful and massive. Many Brutalist buildings have the strange ability to look simultaneously futuristic and highly dated.

A favorite of the Communist Bloc housing, fascist dictators like Mussolini and the new capital city of Brazil, Brasilia, Brutalism has gotten a bad rap. Its harshness and starkness, combined with its favorability to the sort of wild-eyed “new world order” types has made it very unpopular throughout its history.

But, regardless of how you perceive Brutalist buildings  (ghastly, hulking eyesores or clean and modern design for a modern world) you must admit that the style is eye-catching.

Poured concrete over rebar is the favored material of Brutalist architects. The strong, moldable and plastic material allows for extremely large and complex buildings. Unfortunately, it also ages poorly. While the overall structure may be strong and sound, chipping and disintegration of the exterior over time gives many Brutalist buildings a shoddy, worn look.

Even when Brutalist buildings are built in a curvilinear way, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s New York Guggenheim museum, there is still an air of machismo and looming power. Striking, fascinating and often wildly-unique, Brutalism isn’t pretty –¬† but it sure is interesting.

Flip through this collection of stark, black and white Brutalist buildings and decide for yourself whether you love, or are repulsed by, this highly controversial style of design.

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