Brutalism: Making a Comeback!

With all of the extravagant and ostentatious new buildings going up all over the world, I find the Brutalist design style refreshing, modern, and the simplicity…stunning. There are more than half a million images tagged on Instagram with #Brutalism alone. There is definitely a new appreciation for these gorgeous geometric facades.

Examples of #TrueBrutalism images on Instagram!

Originally started as a need for post-war rebuilding, these massive geometrical structures made out of raw concrete were not pretentious, and inexpensive to build. “Brutalism” doesn’t come from the adjective brutal. It comes from the French term “béton brut,” meaning raw concrete.

In contrast to the ornate Beaux-Arts style of the time, one of my favorite Brutalist architects, Le Corbusier, embraced this functional movement. The best example is his use of concrete in the classic Unité d’Habitation apartment buildings, 337 apartments within a single structure, built in 1952. Le Corbusier was the man who believed that a house was a machine for living in.

Here are a few of his classic Brutalist buildings.

Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation

Le Corbusier’s The Palace of Assembly

Le Corbusier's Tower of Shadows

Le Corbusier's Tower of Shadows

There is probably not a single architectural style that is hated as much as Brutalism. A Boston photography exhibition was put together documenting the destruction of notable Brutalist buildings.

In the past decade, there has been a growing passion for saving these buildings. You can even see architects today, such as Tadao Ando, using concrete to emphasize all of its beautiful and natural qualities.

Tadao Ando's Church of Light

Tadao Ando's Church of Light

Tadao Ando’s Silence


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If you are interested in just how beautiful and modern Brutalism can be, pick up This Brutal World from phaidon.com.

Helen Zouvelekis