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What is Brutalism in Architecture & 
is it misunderstood?

Topics Covered

Brutalist architecture is a style that is often characterized by its raw and rugged appearance, with a heavy use of concrete and an emphasis on the building’s structural elements. This architectural style originated in the 1950s and was popularized in the 1960s and 1970s.

Notable architects who adopt the Brutalist architectural style

One of the most notable architects associated with this style is Le Corbusier, who was a Swiss-French architect, designer, urban planner, and writer. He was a leading figure in the development of modern architecture and is known for his contributions to the International Style of architecture. Le Corbusier’s works like the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille, the Ronchamp Chapel, and the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo are considered iconic examples of Brutalist architecture.

What is brutalist architecture?

Brutalist architecture is known for its functionality and lack of ornamentation. The buildings are often seen as a celebration of the materials and construction methods used, rather than a disguise of them. The use of raw concrete is a defining characteristic of Brutalism, and the rough texture and unfinished look of the material is a key aspect of the aesthetic. This style is often associated with government and institutional buildings such as universities, libraries, and housing projects.

One of the most striking features of Brutalist architecture is the emphasis on the building’s structural elements. The exposed concrete and steel frames are often left unpainted, giving the buildings a rugged and unfinished appearance. This can create a sense of solidity and permanence, making the buildings seem like they are part of the landscape rather than a foreign intrusion.

Despite its rough and unfinished appearance, Brutalist architecture is often designed with a high degree of care and attention to detail. The use of concrete, for example, is not just a matter of aesthetics, but also a matter of practicality. Concrete is a durable and long-lasting material, and it allows for large open spaces and a flexible floor plan. This makes it ideal for buildings such as housing projects, where the need for affordable and functional living spaces is paramount.

What is significant about brutalist architecture?

Brutalist architecture is also known for its social and cultural significance. Many of the buildings were constructed during a time of rapid urbanization and population growth, and they were intended to provide affordable housing for the growing number of displaced persons. The Unité d’Habitation, for example, was designed to provide all the necessary services within the building, including a rooftop garden, a school, and a shopping center. This was intended to create a sense of community and to make it easier for residents to access the services they needed.

In recent years, Brutalism has been criticized for its perceived ugliness and lack of aesthetic appeal. Some argue that the buildings are too harsh and uninviting, and that the use of concrete is a poor choice for architectural design.

However, others argue that the style is misunderstood, and that its unadorned and raw appearance is actually a refreshing change from the more polished and ornamented styles of architecture that dominate many cities today.

At ArchAdemia, we feel the latter applies and find the style offers vast opportunity with regards to light, shadow, form and function and predict a contemporary resurgence on the horizon.

What is ArchAdemia?

A place for creatives to elevate skills, industry knowledge, confidence, well-being & career success! Our platform is perfect for design students, qualified architects, interior designers and archviz artists of all skill levels.

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