Why we must learn to love brutalist architecture

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Why we must learn to love brutalist architecture
La cite radieuse, Le Corbusier
Why we must learn to love brutalist architecture
La cite radieuse, Le Corbusier

Are you mad about concrete? Does you heart skip a beat when you walk through the foyer of the National Theatre? Do you plan day trips to Coventry Cathedral (with its hammered-concrete high altar) or Leeds University, where students look politely puzzled as you exclaim over their magnificent brutalist halls of residence?

I admit I am a late convert. Growing up in the 1970s in the West Midlands, concrete was the stuff of flyovers and walkways, badly designed shopping arcades and piazzas, and brutalism – the bold but divisive architectural movement which lasted from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s – was fast falling out of favour.

What began as a utopian project to design new schools, libraries, hospitals, housing estates, city halls, using the most cutting-edge building techniques, was deemed to have failed; resulting in ugly, inhuman buildings, unfit for purpose.

Birmingham (and, in particular, Spaghetti Junction with its giant concrete columns) was a byword for mockery. I blushed when anyone mentioned I came from there. […]

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