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Blocky and Raw: Is Brutalism Architecture Making a Comeback? | HowStuffWorks

This postwar era architecture has a heavy, raw look, hence the name. But the designs are sensible and authoritative, and many Brutalist buildings are experiencing a revival.

Unité d'Habitation in Marseille is arguably the most influential Brutalist building of all time. It's also one of 17 projects by 20th-century French architect Le Corbusier to be added to UNESCO's list of internationally significant architecture sites. Flickr/Denis Esakov/(CC 3.0)
Unité d’Habitation in Marseille is arguably the most influential Brutalist building of all time. It’s also one of 17 projects by 20th-century French architect Le Corbusier to be added to UNESCO’s list of internationally significant architecture sites. Flickr/Denis Esakov/(CC 3.0)

By: Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.

Strike up a conversation about the world’s most beautiful buildings, and it might be a while before anyone mentions an example of Brutalist architecture. There could be numerous French buildings on the list like the Palace of Versailles or something more recent like the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, but Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation in Marseille probably won’t be at the top of anybody’s list.

Yet that building, completed in 1952, has been called the architect and designer’s “most significant and inspiring” by ArchDaily. Made of béton-brut concrete, which was inexpensive in post-World War II Europe, the innovative building housed 1,600 individuals and included spaces for dining, shopping and gathering. And its heavy look and raw material established Brutalism, a style that has been fighting for its rightful place in the imagination of architecture lovers ever since.

What Is Brutalism?

Brutalism is an architectural style that came out of the postwar era and is defined by several key characteristics, including large building forms, unique and striking shapes, heavy-looking materials, and unfinished surfaces and materials, says Brandon Buck, RIBA and design director at global design firm Perkins&Will. Buck also is leading the team enhancing the Brutalist Richard Seifert building at 41 Tower Hill, London.

It is the unfinished surfaces that are responsible for Brutalism’s name — the raw concrete it’s known for is called béton brut in French. The style predominantly makes use of this exposed concrete and sometimes brick with an overlay of a monochrome color palette. Of course, there is a need for other materials in construction, like steel, timber and glass, but those are secondary.

“I think it’s hard not to be impressed with the striking nature of Brutalist architecture,” says Buck, who compares the style to walking through a modern art museum — even if you don’t love everything, it makes you stop and wonder and feel something.

Read on >>>> Source: Blocky and Raw: Is Brutalism Architecture Making a Comeback? | HowStuffWorks

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