Brutalist architecture is a type of architecture that was developed during the 1950s. Its main characteristics include a lack of ornamentation, bare building materials, and minimalist constructions. The first brutalist architecture buildings were built in the United Kingdom. These buildings were built during the post-war reconstruction period and were designed to showcase structural elements.
The Unite d’Habitation in Marseille
Unite d’Habitation, also called “Houses in a House” in France, is an innovative public housing scheme. It is an example of a modernist residential housing design typology and is one of Le Corbusier’s most important buildings.
Le Corbusier designed the Unite d’Habitation in 1947. He designed the project to serve a social need. The building was built in the aftermath of World War II when Marseille was left homeless. This was the first of his large-scale projects.
Unite d’Habitation is built on pilotis, which allow for pedestrian access. It is constructed of reinforced beton-brut concrete, which is the least expensive material in post-war Europe.
It is a massive volume that resembles an ocean liner, and the outside space resembles the top deck. The interior is double-height. There are three floors and each floor has a corridor.
Unite d’Habitation can accommodate up to 1,600 people. Each apartment has a bathroom and kitchen. Some of the apartments feature sculptural ventilation stacks, resembling smoke stacks.
Brutalist university buildings
Brutalist university buildings are those designed in the mid-to-late 1960s. They are typically minimalist buildings made of concrete. Typical brutalist structures are built with strong, simple lines and bold facades.
The term “Brutalist” came from the French phrase beton brut, which translates to “raw concrete”. Brutalist architecture was a popular style of architecture during the post-World War II baby boom. It became popular in European Communist countries during the mid-1960s to late 1980s.
In the United Kingdom, the term “Brutalist” is sometimes paired with the term “Urban Decay”. Many of the Brutalist buildings were designed before the oil crisis of the 1970s. However, these structures are often cold and sterile.
Another Brutalist gimmick was the “streets in the sky”. These were structures that spanned from floor to ceiling. This allowed for more efficient traffic flow but meant that the building’s exterior was less attractive than the interior.
Despite their shortcomings, these structures were built for functional reasons. For example, a Brutalist building may have been erected as a way to keep out winters. An alternative was to use the building’s floor areas for other purposes, such as housing a library or performing arts center.
Brutalist shopping malls
The tricorn-shaped Tricorn Centre was a Brutalist masterpiece in its day. It was a shopping center, nightclub, and car park complex. This was also the location of the largest laser-based game in Europe. Sadly, its long demise was a mere nine months after construction started.
The Tricorn shaped Tricorn was a landmark in the architectural community for nearly half a century. One of the most notable occupants was Virgin Megastores. But, the Tricorn-shaped Tricorn is now a thing of the past. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the other inhabitants of the Brutalist slums. Now the site is a ground level car park for the city center. And while the new incarnation is not quite as opulent as its predecessor, it’s still an impressive achievement.
The most significant changes at the Tricorn-shaped Tricorn have been minor tweaks to the facade, the replacement of the original tricorn hat, and a rebranding of the site as Tricorn Quarter. While it’s a sad day to say goodbye to this awe-inspiring landmark, it’s a great opportunity to appreciate the architecture anew.
Eco-brutalism is a style of architecture that combines brutalist style with greenery. Often called “greenwashing”, it has been accused of being too much of a good thing.
Its primary material is concrete. Concrete absorbs sunlight, releasing heat slowly. However, the manufacturing process is not environmentally friendly. In addition, concrete is not sustainable.
Eco-brutalism is a style that has become popular around the world, especially in Brazil, Indonesia, India, and Costa Rica. Brutalist structures also include ponds and natural ventilation. These features make buildings more beautiful.
Unlike other styles, brutalists often use reinforced concrete. This material is ideal for the interior of a building since it is strong and durable. Moreover, it is resistant to fire, corrosion, and abrasion.
Although the underlying idea of eco-brutalism is sound, there are many issues with the way it’s implemented. There are some criticisms that it’s not really sustainable, and its aesthetics may be lacking.
Another concern is that it doesn’t take into account the flora and fauna of the area where it’s being built. As a result, it may be detrimental to the environment.