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Brutalism : London Brutalist Architecture Photos

Brutalist Buildings – Photography © Andy Spain, England, UK

9 Aug 2010

London Brutalist Buildings

Brutalist Architecture in London – New Photographs

Andy Spain Photographer

The Trellick Tower in London, an example of modernist, brutalist architecture, designed by Erno Goldfinger:
The Trellick Tower in London, an example of modernist, brutalist architecture, designed by Erno Goldfinger

Brutalism is the term coined to describe the raw architecture often made with concrete during the 1950s and 1960s (with a later resurgence). I’m an architectural photographer and my fascination with these concrete buildings has led to me document a number of them across the UK (an on-going project).

A concrete building in Birmingham, near to New St Station:
A concrete building in Birmingham, near to New St Station

Photos © Andy Spain Photographer

When you go into a gallery a painting might cause you to stop and look, it isn’t the spectacle but the aesthetics ability to hold the viewer. Concrete buildings have this ability.

A concrete office block off the Strand in London:
A concrete office block off the Strand in London

They don’t fit into the streets and city centres where they appear (they are by their very nature brutal rather than accommodating) but there strength and power speak of a time when people had a belief in architecture as a force for civic good.

The Hayward Gallery on London’s Southbank. A modernist and brutalist building by Dennis Crompton (Archigram):
The Hayward Gallery on London's Southbank. A modernist and brutalist building by Dennis Crompton (Archigram)

These structures were solid spaces to create a solid and strong world emerging from the gloom of the second world war. The buildings represent what was great about building a society, universities, hospitals, local governments as opposed to the steel and glass of contemporary retail and office complexes. These buildings were about real people and real issues and they wore this realism brutally on the outside.

The National Theatre in London, an example of modernsit and brutalist architecture by Denys Lasdun:
The National Theatre in London, an example of modernsit and brutalist architecture by Denys Lasdun

But it’s more than that. The form is itself appealing (beyond what that form represents). Simplicity in architecture is rare and to strip back so much of the adornments and leave the bare walls is somehow sensual, the opposite of what so many critics claim. The way lines are created and cut against the sky or interact with other buildings.

The Renoir Cinema in the Brunswick (Centre), Bloomsbury, London. Designed by Patrick Hodgkinson:
The Renoir Cinema in the Brunswick (Centre), Bloomsbury, London. Designed by Patrick Hodgkinson

The regularity of shape and form caused by the shutter process of creating the concrete, the ability to go up to the building and feel the roughness of the concrete matching and creating an indexical link with the way the building was made.

The National Theatre in London, an example of modernist and brutalist architecture by Denys Lasdun
The National Theatre in London, an example of modernist and brutalist architecture by Denys Lasdun

Sometimes a book is hard to read or a film is hard to watch but by completing it you know it was something important and worthwhile which deserved your perseverance. These buildings also deserve your perseverance.

Space House – Office block in concrete near High Holborn in London:
Office block in concrete near High Holborn in London

They are evidence of a modernism, a time when we didn’t dress up architecture but left it cold and honest for all to see.

The Trellick Tower West London, Modernist, Brutalist architecture design by Erno Goldfinger:
The Trellick Tower West London, Modernist, Brutalist architecture design by Erno Goldfinger

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