Brutalism, one of our fav mid 20th century architecture styles here at Formidable Mag. We chose three prime examples for you in no particular order.
In the 60s architects espoused a tougher, more uncompromising aesthetic which revelled in exposed materials and surfaces. Brutalism is a style marked by its use of concrete for its raw and unpretentious honesty, contrasting dramatically with the highly refined and ornamented buildings constructed in the elite Beaux-Arts style. Surfaces of cast concrete are made to reveal the basic nature of its construction, revealing the texture of the wooden planks used for the in-situ casting forms. (Geisel Library, University of California, San Diego, California, USA, 1970 by William Pereira & Associates. Courtesy University of California, San Diego).
Like Modernism, Brutalism was driven by idealism and by technology. But Unlike Modernism, it also had a raw, unrestrained quality. Another common theme in Brutalist designs is the exposure of the building’s functions—ranging from their structure and services to their human use—in the exterior of the building. (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York, USA, 1966 by Marcel Breuer and Associates).
The term “brutalism” was originally coined by the Swedish architect Hans Asplund to describe Villa Göth in Uppsala, designed in 1949 by his contemporaries Bengt Edman and Lennart Holm. But the term gained wide currency when the British architectural historian Reyner Banham used it in the title of his 1966 book, The New Brutalism: Ethic or Aesthetic.
Number one. Tricorn Shopping Center and car park, Portsmouth, 1965. Architects: Owen Luder Partnership. Photographer: Sam Lambert.
Brutalism main attributes were a ruthless logic; the clear display of structure; the valuation of materials for their inherent qualities ‘as found’; and memorability of the building as image.
Few examples of this are as memorable as image as the Tricorn Shopping Centre.
Once loved by modern architect enthusiasts who saw it as beacon of “new brutalism”, Portsmouth’s Tricon shopping centre and car park was blown up in 2004 in a controlled demolition. The building was cleared to make way for the regeneration of Portsmouth’s town centre.
Number two. Torres Blancas apartment building, Madrid. It’s an extraordinary fusion of the Brutalist and Organic styles built in 1968 by the architect Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza in conjunction with the forward thinking construction firm of Juan Huarte.
Conceived in 1961 ,Torres Blancas, are Brutalist in their imposing concrete presence yet Organic in their very tree-like aspect. The towers have a cylindrical appearance and the circular balconies and apartments seemingly grow from the ‘trunk’ like mushrooms.
Large circular indentations from the structures above invade the space like giant cheese rounds. The staircase, unsurprisingly, spirals up all the way to the roof, a space that comprises a communal living area with gardens and a pool.
Number three. Druzhba (friendship) Sanatorium by Igor Vasilievsky, 1986, Yalta, Ukraine.
The resort building’s cylindrical form stands on a hill overlooking a beach in what was then an exclusive resort town. Conceived as a ‘social condenser’, the building’s core is occupied by a cinema, dance hall, swimming pool and cafe.
Circling this core are the guest rooms, arrayed in a dazzling saw-tooth facade orienting each room toward the water and sunlight, while giving the structure an eerie science-fiction quality.
“It’s about the relationship of building to the environment. In my opinion nature is the primary element of composition. The steps to solve this problem are basically two. First: create a large-scale environment with greenery and man, include a people container in the natural landscape. Second: attempt to physically preserve nature, separating the building from the ground. This is typical for structures on complex geological conditions and terrain. That is why “Druzhba” was “flying”. -Igor Vasilevsky:
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