Brutalist architecture

img_2770Vis a vis townscapes and my preference for lurking under concrete bridges rather than replicating the lovely-to-live-in-but-twee-to-draw local town and village scenes.

I’ve been talking about brutal architecture as though I’d invented the term but it turns out I didn’t – it’s a whole movement!

I grew up with it though; the science lab added to the side of my late 1800’s school, the motorways that began to plough huge furrows across the landscape – we saw these on the telly but they didn’t reach us in Yorkshire till the early 1970s – and the kitchen sink dramas that seemed to feature concrete buildings as both beautiful and bleak. They must have made an impression. I find I’m more drawn to rust and dripping water with all the stains and sounds that go with these things than I am to prettiness, although I wouldn’t swap prettiness as an environment to live in. Wonderful to be surrounded by, to smell, to feel the breeze, not to draw or paint.

This is what brutalist architecture is about:

Brutalist architecture, or Brutalism, is an architectural style which emerged in the mid-20th century and gained popularity in the late 1950s and 1960s. It descended from the modernist architecturalmovement of the late 19th century and of the first half of 20th century.[1] It is characterized by simple, block-like structures that often feature bare building materials. Exposed concrete is favored in construction, however some examples are primarily made of brick. Though beginning in Europe, Brutalist architecture can now be found around the world. The style has been most commonly used in the design of institutional buildings such as libraries, courts, public housing and city halls. accessed 4th May 2019.

I’ve been a user and a visitor to buildings like this. Cold, angular, masculine and not at all welcoming. Reflected I think in Bladerunner which, to my mind, was a world (or a cinematographic representation of one) designed entirely by men for men with not a cushion in sight. Released in 1982, this must have been in the making during the late 1970s during which so many of those brutalist buildings were established and still popping up in towns and cities everywhere. The 2017 ‘update’ showed no progression at all in this regard which doesn’t say a lot for the change in the social milieu during either the fictional or, for the directors, the actual passage of time!

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