Brutalism Reawakened


img_5826Developing out of modernism with an emphasis on raw material and sculptural form, brutalist architecture can often seem at odds with the idea of domestic architecture. Yet there seems to be a renewed appreciation for the forms and spaces available for housing. For the right person paying a premium is accepted given the limited supply of architecturally designed epoch defining homes.

As the destruction of brutalist buildings gathers pace awareness is raised beyond the experience of those living in and nearby. Artists are increasingly turning their focus on these landmark building. The architecture and utopian ideals of their progenitors is examined in detail. Form, pattern, inclusiveness and exclusivity are all used as concepts in artists’ work. This reawakening of interest and examination of principal has led to a renewed appreciation.  There is a desire to bring these culturally spurned buildings back into the architectural limelight. Protection of the most important buildings through statutory Heritage England listing is now more likely.

Opinion still appears very much divided on the acceptability of brutalism for residential architecture with schemes for demolition and preservation currently underway simultaneously. An increasing number of people are actively wanting to live in these iconic building. In turn this is likely to lead to an improvement in the management and environmental quality of these homes. Perhaps, in time a wider cultural appreciation might follow.

Artist Simon Phipps’ images of British brutalist buildings examine the form and plastic nature of cast concrete. He captures the contrast between the pattern and repetition of the elevation against the anti-geometry of the plan. The artist’s viewpoint brings into question the dynamism between the towering forms and the connection to the ground, often preserved solely for the pedestrian. The tension between the human and megalithic form is played out in stark forensic scrutiny.

BÉTON BRUT, work by Simon Phipps, is on display at The Foundry Gallery, supported by Le Lay Architects, until 27 October 2016.