Brutalism is a architectural movment that was popular in the 1960's and 70's. Brutalism is characterized by the use of heavy, rough, unadorned concrete,(One term coined for it was béton brut ,French for "raw concrete"). Brutalist designs tend to be large, imposing and intimidating. The style is also known for its lack of adornment, either exterior or interior. Brutalist buildings differ from Modernist, Minimalist and Internationalist styles of architecture, due to Brutalism's use of abstract shapes. Brutalist buildings were built when energy was cheap, so they are usually completely climate controlled. In fact Brutalism buildings generally have few windows, and some buildings have windows that were not designed to open.
Brutalism was first employed in Marseilles, France with the erection of the Unité d'Habitation building in 1954, but it had its greatest impact in England and North America. For whatever reason, goverments, universites, public buildings and residental building projects embraced Brutalism for better or worse.
Most people think Brutalist buildings are ugly, cold and unfeeling in nature. That is a matter of personal opinion. It is true that many Brutalist bulidings were very inefficent, and since they were made mainly of huge slabs of concrete, they were very hard to modify in any substantial way. However they are very easy to maintain, and they are very sturdy in nature.
Another interesting aspect of Brutalism was that many service functions (water towers, elevator shafts, HVAC ducting among other things, were exposed, further increasing the abstract nature of the buildings
To me Brutalist buildings look like a cross of a futuristic fortress and a failed utopian experiment. In fact most Brutalist architects wanted their buildings to have a utopian feel, but most people seem to hate it. One thing I like about Brutalism is that their buildings are striking and powerful looking in appearence.
Some Brutalist buildings include:
- Boston City Hall, Boston, Massachusetts
- New Haven Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, New Haven, Connecticut
- Home Office Building, London, United Kingdom
- Trellick Tower, London, United Kingdom
- Balfron Tower, London, United Kingdom
- FBIHeadquaters, Washington D.C
- The Pan Am (now Metlife) building, New York City, New York
- Regenstein Library, Chicago, Illinois
- Robarts Library, Toronto,
- Unité d'Habitation, Marseilles, France