Brutalist buildings around the world
by Christopher Beanland
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 09 Nov 2021 | Archive Date 09 Dec 2021
Quarto Publishing Group – White Lion, Frances Lincoln
This compelling and in-depth study looks at some of the most inspiring and iconic brutalist buildings, in a quest to find the soul of one of modern architecture's most misunderstood movements.
No modern architectural style has aroused so much awe and so much ire as Brutalism. This is architecture at its most assertive: compelling, distinctive, sometimes terrifying. But, as Concrete Concept shows, Brutalism can be about love as well as hate.
This inspiring and informative photographic survey profiles 50 brutalist buildings from around the world. Travelling the globe – from Le Corbusier's Unite d’Habitation (Marseille, France), to the Former Whitney Museum (New York City, USA) to Preston Bus Station (Preston, UK) – this book covers concrete architecture in its most extraordinary forms, demonstrating how Brutalism has changed our landscapes and infected popular culture.
Author and architecture expert Christopher Beanland writes passionately about how this style came to be, tracing its origins from the modernist art movement, the trauma of World War Two and the need for municipal renewal.
Now in a stylish mini format, this is the perfect tour of Brutalism's biggest hits.
"A lively journey around the world's brutalist buildings" Frieze.com
"A dazzlingly shot whistle-stop of the much-maligned style's greatest hits ... the book showcases confidence, clarity and the historical importance of the movement." Monocle
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 5 members
Absolutely brilliant! This is a real treat for architecture nerds, but this book is so captivating it's sure to have universal appeal. The collection of these wild, audacious buildings boggles the mind and I'm amazed at the vast scope and endless variety. The concept of brutalism is explained in an accessible, irreverent way. This is no stuffy textbook, but rather a love letter to anyone who can see beauty in unlikely places. The article for each building is full of interesting commentary on the development, context, and eventual fate of the structures. The photography is just breathtaking! There are multiple shots of most buildings and highlights of especially unique or clever details. This would be a great gift for anyone interested in art, architecture, history, or traveling. Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!
The moment I saw Concrete Concept I knew I had to read it. When it comes to architecture, I’m a classical lover through and through, but Brutalism is my happy exception. Why? No clue. I just know there’s something visceral about slabs of raw concrete stacked up, a statement I’m still trying to figure out. The closest comparison I could make is, it’s a big middle finger thrown out for no reason at all. ** No modern architectural movement has aroused so much awe and so much ire as Brutalism. This is architecture at its most assertive: compelling, distinctive, sometimes terrifying. But, as Concrete Concept shows, Brutalism can be about love as well as hate. This inspiring and informative photographic survey profiles 50 brutalist buildings from around the world. Travelling the globe – from Le Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation (Marseille, France), to the Former Whitney Museum (New York City, USA) to Preston Bus Station (Preston, UK) – this book covers concrete architecture in its most extraordinary forms, demonstrating how Brutalism has changed our landscapes and infected popular culture. Now in a stylish mini format, this is the perfect tour of Brutalism’s biggest hits. 192 pages Architecture, photography Quarto Publishing Group – White Lion Goodreads ** Cover: Well. It’s a book about brutalism. Concrete on the cover shouldn’t be a surprise. Yay! - Brutalism. You either love it or hate it, right? Not really, no. You can love it and get horrified on occasion – the two things can and will go hand in hand. It’s like the slow-mo train wreck of architecture. Take the St. Mary cathedral in Kyoto, for example: a brutalist church should be a de facto criminal offence with a Ludovico rehab program, featuring Corinthian columns and decorated pediments 24/7. Still, in its concrete horror, it’s a fascinating church. Tons of raw beton brut around the altar? Wow. I love it. - I also love the writing style. It’s hilarious as Beanland doesn’t mince words and goes all in. You like it? Good. You don’t? Tough. - You know how I’m always complaining about books featuring too many black/white pictures, right? Well, Concrete Concept is maybe the only photography book that can pull that out. It’s a good choice, as it captures the soul of those buildings. The colored ones are fascinating too. - I winced and/or went through variations of ‘oh, dear Lord, why’ throughout the entire book. Is this a good thing? Of course. I loved every moment I spent shaking my head at the pictures, because they provoked a reaction. That’s the whole point of… ah, anything under the sun, I guess. - Great editing. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me, because itsmagic.gif - Every building is worth mentioning. Compiling the next section took me the biggest chunk of time here, because they all are so good and so awful they deserve some recognition. Special mention: - 53 Thomas Street, NY. No windows. A building with no windows. - Habitat 67, Canada. Why? But in a cute way. - MASP, Brazil. It reminds me of a spider with red legs. - CCSS, Costa Rica. This is so confusing, it’s adorable. - Torres Bianca, Madrid. It’s round. I mean. - Preston Bus Station, England. The curved edges are a thing of beauty. - Balfron & Trellick Towers, England. I’m obsessed with the stairs joining the towers with the main buildings. Obsessed. - Orange County Government Center, USA. I’m not sure what I’m looking at here, but, hey. - Park Hill, England. The first picture is so powerful. It’s like a reverse mullet, party in the front, business in the back. Nay! - Nothing. I wish I could take Concrete Concept out on a date. TL;DR 5 stars on GR, but it’d deserve more.
Concrete Concepts by Christopher Beanland is a compact but very useful introduction to brutalism in architecture. The beginning of the book covers some history and terminology, delivered with wit and expertise. From there we are shown 50 examples from around the world. Let me address a couple comments I have seen. Brutalism originated in the UK, so as a fairly short-lived trend it only makes sense that a fair number of the examples come from England. Under those circumstances 11 of the 50 being in England is not skewed all that far in that direction As for complaining that the buildings shown from a trend that originated in England didn't offer enough from the USA, well, 9 of 50 is not really neglecting the US. In other words, these examples are from all over the world and happen to include a large number from a couple of the countries that adopted the style most extensively. Not really a surprise and definitely not a weakness of the book. I think what stood out for me, aside from some amazing buildings, was just how many similar buildings I have seen in my life (as well as the Metro in DC that I know very well). Even on some of the more unique buildings included here there are elements that reminded me of places I have been. This is just as likely because of my age as the amount of traveling and moving around I did. I do think some of the images will remind a lot of readers of places they have been. Perhaps just aspects of overhangs or walkways rather than the full blown building design, but these elements are what most easily migrated from place to place as Brutalism spread. While I can't really say I ever really liked the style, there were some places that I thought, both at the time and now in retrospect, were attractive even if not beautiful like some other styles. Placing the movement in historical and cultural context helps the reader to appreciate things about it even while being thankful that there aren't a lot of such buildings going up right now. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.