Brutalist Architecture

GENERAL DEFINITION :

Brutalist architecture is a movement in architecture that flourished from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, descended from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century. Bold, brash and confrontational, there can hardly be a more controversial – or misunderstood – architectural movement than Brutalism. Its very name is misleading, causing many to condemn its concrete creations for their apparent "brutality". Brutalism's etymology actually lies in the French béton-brut, literally "raw concrete", the movement's signature material.

Brutalism was posited not as a style at all but as the expression of an atmosphere among architects of moral seriousness.

There is often an emphasis on graphically expressing in the external elevations and in the whole-site plan the main functions and people-flows of the buildings. Brutalism became popular for educational buildings (especially university buildings), but was relatively rare for corporate projects. Brutalism became favoured for many government projects, high-rise housing, and shopping centres to create an architectural image that communicated strength, functionality, and frank expression of materiality.

Brutalist buildings are usually formed with repeated modular elements forming masses representing specific functional zones, distinctly articulated and grouped together into a unified whole. Concrete is used for its raw and unpretentious honesty, contrasting dramatically with the highly refined and ornamented buildings constructed in the elite Beaux-Arts style. Surfaces of cast concrete are made to reveal the basic nature of its construction, revealing the texture of the wooden planks used for the in-situ casting forms. Brutalist building materials also include brick, glass, steel, rough-hewn stone, and gabions.

To sum up, to be part of the Brutalist movement you need :

-a frank use of material

-social principals

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LE CORBUSIER :

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, who was better known as Le Corbusier, was a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer, and one of the pioneers of what is now called modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930. His career spanned five decades, with his buildings constructed throughout Europe, India, and America.

Dedicated to providing better living conditions for the residents of crowded cities, Le Corbusier was influential in urban planning, and was a founding member of the Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM).

His modern architectural ideas are gathered in a manifesto called "five points of architecture". In summary, those five points are :

-Pilotis – The replacement of supporting walls by a grid of reinforced concrete columns that bears the load of the structure is the basis of the new aesthetic.


-The free designing of the ground plan – The absence of supporting walls means that the house is unrestrained in its internal usage.


-The free design of façade – By separating the exterior of the building from its structural function the façade becomes free.

-The horizontal window – The façade can be cut along its entire length to allow rooms to be lit equally.
Roof gardens – The flat roof can be utilized for a domestic purpose while also providing essential protection to the concrete roof.

This is how modern architecture should be for him.

His most famous work in the brutalist movement is "Unité d'Habitation".

UNITE D'HABITATION by Le Corbusier :

The Unité d'habitation (French pronunciation: ​[ynite dabitasjɔ̃], Housing Unit) is the name of a modernist residential housing design principle developed by Le Corbusier, with the collaboration of painter-architect Nadir Afonso. The concept formed the basis of several housing developments designed by him throughout Europe with this name. The most famous of these developments is located in south Marseille.

The first and most famous of these buildings, also known as Cité radieuse (Radiant City), is located in Marseille, France, and was built between 1947 and 1952. One of Le Corbusiers's most famous works, it proved enormously influential and is often cited as the initial inspiration of the Brutalist architectural style and philosophy.

The building is constructed in béton brut (raw-concrete), as the hoped-for steel frame proved too expensive in light of post-War shortages. The Unité in Marseille is pending designation as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It is designated a historic monument by the French Ministry of Culture. It was damaged by fire on February 9, 2012.

The Marseille building, developed with Corbusier's designers Shadrach Woods, George Candilis, comprises 337 apartments arranged over twelve stories, all suspended on large piloti. The building also incorporates shops with architectural bookshop,[4] sporting, medical and educational facilities, a hotel which is open to the public, and a gastronomic restaurant, Le Ventre de l'architecte ("The Architect's Belly").

Inside, corridors run through the centre of the long axis of every third floor of the building, with each apartment lying on two levels, and stretching from one side of the building to the other, with a balcony. Unlike many of the inferior system-built blocks it inspired, which lack the original's generous proportions, communal facilities and parkland setting, the Unité is popular with its residents and is now mainly occupied by upper middle-class professionals.


The roof level with the children's paddling pool, atelier and ventilation stack visible.

The flat roof is designed as a communal terrace with sculptural ventilation stacks, a running track, and a shallow paddling pool for children. There is also a children's art school in the atelier. It has unobstructed views of the Mediterranean and Marseille.

As we can see, this building respect perfectly the codes of the Brutalist Architecture (frank use of material + social preocupations).

 

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The roof :

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Trellick Tower :

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JACK LYNN and IVOR SMITH

Ivor Smith and Jack Lynn is a pair of young architects working at that time for Sheffield City Council, who have designed Park Hill, Sheffield which was one of the most ambitious inner-city housing projects of its era.

The complex is made up of a series of interconnected blocks constructed using concrete frames, which were left exposed and infilled with yellow, orange and red brick.

Built over one of the city's seven hills, it replaced an assortment of back-to-back housing, tenement blocks and waste sites, creating nearly 1,000 new homes.

As a result of the steep hillside site, the buildings rise from four storeys at the highest point to 13 at the lowest. This meant the architects could maintain a level roofline, and allowed the creation of the elevated open-air decks.

These three-metre-wide communal walkways – the "streets in the sky" promoted by Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation and many of the unbuilt projects by Alison and Peter Smithson – were designed as a modern replacement for the cobbled terraces of the former slums.

They were wide enough to let a milk float go by or to allow children to play outdoor games, and were planned to encourage neighbours to interact with one another as they might on a regular street.

"These decks are more than glorified access balconies," wrote architectural historian Reyner Banham, in a review of the building shortly after its 1961 opening. "Functionally and socially they are streets without the menace of through vehicular traffic."

To foster a sense of community spirit, families re-housed in Park Hill were put next to their original neighbours, and the streets around the site were named after the original roads the project was built over.

As well as homes, the complex accommodated pubs, schools, doctor and dental clinics, plus an assortment of shops that included a butcher, baker, pharmacy, newsagent, and fish and chip shop.

Banham said: "Park Hill seems to represent one of those rare occasions when the intention to create a certain kind of architecture happens to encounter a programme and a site that can hardly be dealt with in any other way, and the result has the clarity that only arises when aesthetic programme and functional opportunity meet and are instantly fused."

Unfortunately, the collapse of the steel industry – Sheffield's biggest income provider and employer – in the 1980s brought the radical ideals of Park Hill to an end. As money ran out, pubs were boarded up and the labyrinth of passages and decks became the perfect place for antisocial behaviour, vandalism and crime.

The fortunes of the complex changed in 1997 when Park Hill was granted a Grade II listing by English Heritage, making it the largest listed building in Europe. Property developer Urban Splash took over the building and commissioned architects Hawkins\Brown and urban designers Studio Egret West to renovate its dilapidated interiors.

 

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After renovation :

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OTHER EXAMPLES :

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Radiant City :

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ERNO GOLDFINGER :

Erno Goldfinger was born 11 september 1902 in Budapest. He is an architect and designer of furniture. He moved to the United Kingdom in the 1930s, and became a key member of the architectural Modern Movement. He is most prominently remembered for designing residential tower blocks, some of which are now listed buildings.

He has been influenced a lot by Le Corbusier's writting (New Spirit, for example) and so share the same vision of the architecture wich coulb summarize by this Le Corbusier's quotation : "house is a machine to live in as evidence of a crude functionalism". Which means that for the brutalist architect, a house design sould only be a matter of fulfilling basic human needs.

This is what Goldfiger has tried to do with his famous Trellick Tower.

TRELLICK TOWER by Goldfinger :

Trellick Tower is a 31-storey block of flats in North Kensington, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, England.

This tower is part of a project called tower blocks, which is a gathering of many towers, mostly similar bacause they follow the same idea.

For this project, the main idea of Goldfinger was to build hight because "the whole object of building hight is to free the ground for children and grown-up to enjoy Mother Earth and not to cover every inch with bricks and mortar".

So this tower was his ideal for city living and offices too. Hight-rise buildings were not to be seen in isolation from the surrounding land, they should be a way of improving the quality of life of those who lived and worked in them.

Trellick tower is at firt glance very similar to Balfron Tower, one of the tower of the project built before. As with Balfron, there is a separate service tower joined at every third foor that give these buildings their distinctive silhouettes which has turn it into something of a cultural icon.

When completed in 1972, Trellick Tower was the tallest social housing in Europe.

 

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Park Hill :

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OTHER EXAMPLES :

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