What is Brutalism? (Wikipedia helped us here)

Brutalist architecture is a movement in architecture that flourished from the 1950s to the mid-1970s. The name comes from the the French word béton brut (raw concrete), used by Le Corbusier to describe his choice of material, adapted by British architectural critic Reyner Banham into "brutalism" to identify the emerging style.

Britalism buildings are characterized by a massive character with a predominance of exposed concrete construction, which can also combine detailed brickwork and concrete. The emphasis of the structure is to graphically express the main functions and people-flows of the buildings through the external elevations and in the whole-site architectural plan.

Initially seen as a reaction of younger artists towards the light buildings from the 1930' and 40's, Brutalism was perceived as the expression of an atmosphere among architects of moral seriousness and honesty in architecture

Unite d'Habitation (Le Corbusier) east elevation from ground level - Picture credit, Crookesmoor

In this article on the New York Times, Nikil Saval outlines how, after decades of unpopularity, Brutalism is undergoing a revival and is now considered with fervor and enthusiasm.

Brutalism was an attempt to create an architectural ethic, rather than an aesthetic. It had less to do with materials and more to do with honesty: an uncompromising desire to tell it like it is, architecturally speaking.

Paul Rudolph designed the Yale Art and Architecture Building, which opened in 1963, while acting as department chair. The interiors were restored in 2008, decades after a mysterious fire in 1969 — some suspected disgruntled students. Credit©Ezra Stoller/Esto on New York Times

Saval reports how Brutalism was woven into social democracy and as the critic Michael J. Lewis has pointed out, the truthful expression of the welfare state. It became in fact, the style for governments committed to some kind of socialism, the image of “the common good.”

With her SESC Pompeia leisure center from 1986, the Italian-born architect Lina Bo Bardi showed the playful side of Brutalism,, with zigzagging bridges that connect a former drum factory to three tall towers. CreditIwan Baan/ onNew York Times

The article leaves you with a very important question, at a time where social media shows its influence over the way we look at looks.

In this second wave, will the aesthetic of Brutalism may at last triumph over its ethic? 

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