The Brutalist style was born in the late 1950’s in Germany. Its name comes from the German word “Bauern” which means “beautiful”. The style consists of modern buildings with strong geometric shapes and harsh lines. The building styles are characterized by their clean lines, minimalism, simplicity and extreme forms.
They have been criticized for being too simple and lacking in personality. However, they were very popular during the 60’s and 70’s. Eastern European countries such as the USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary were all fond of the style. It is thought that the style was a reflection of the harshness of life in those communist states.
The style started gaining popularity in the west during the 60’s and 70’s as well. Architects such as Paul Rudolph and Louis Kahn were prominent figures of the style at this time. Brutalism reached its peak in the 70’s, when it was considered to be modern and cool. During this period many important buildings such as schools, libraries and town halls were built in the Brutalist style.
However, its popularity started to decline in the late 70’s as critics started to claim that the style lacked humanity and identity. This resulted in a backlash of criticism and Brutalism was criticised for being boring. However, the style was never completely forgotten. It still has its fans and there are people who appreciate its beauty and mystery.
That is why I am going to talk about Brutalism through the eyes of an architect in Eastern Europe. These are beautiful buildings that are a far cry from the soft and pastel colors of neo-renaissance and the frenetic shapes of art deco.
What is Brutalism?
Brutalism comes from the French term “beton brut”, which means “raw concrete”. The style consists of buildings made of raw concrete and square shapes. Brutalist architecture is usually found in government buildings and public structures. Its style can also be described as “minimalistic”, since there are rarely any ornaments on the buildings’ exterior.
Characteristics of Brutalism
Brutalism architecture is based on the idea of “form follows function”. Buildings are heavy and sturdy, and are usually made of concrete. Concrete is a strong material that can be shaped into any form, which makes it a perfect material for Brutalist buildings.
Brutalism buildings do not usually have a stucco finish. This is because the rough surface of the concrete adds to the rugged feeling of the building. These buildings also have a distinct materiality that makes the buildings themselves part of the design. The interiors of these buildings are usually quite different from their stark exteriors.
Brutalism buildings are asymmetrical. Since they do not have to follow a traditional design, these buildings can be shaped in ways that would be impossible with other building techniques. They are also designed with different heights and projections that make them dynamic.
Brutalism buildings feature monumental structures with definite vertical and horizontal elements. These buildings incorporate large areas of windows to let light in and to increase the feeling of spaciousness. Concrete is a natural insulator, so it is not necessary to make the walls thick. The windows can be surrounded by a solid concrete frame for extra strength.
History of Brutalism
Brutalism gets its name from the French term “beton brut”, which means raw concrete. The term was first used to describe the béton-brut art movement, which involved raw concrete in art.
The first brutalist building was designed by Dutch architect Hans Scharoun. The state-funded Berlin exhibition building, also known as the great market or Glaspalast, was completed in 1904. The building was demolished in 1951.
Brutalism became popular in Great Britain during the 1950’s. Buildings such as the Hayward Gallery and the boiler room of the London School of Economics were built in this style.
Many other buildings in London, such as the Trinity School and the Brunswick Centre, were built in the 1950’s as well. Building Brutalist architecture reached its peak during this decade.
Brutalism in Poland developed under very different circumstances than in the West. Since the country was under Soviet rule, Polish architects used this style to make bold political statements. Many government buildings were built in the style during this period.
Brutalism fell out of fashion in the West during the 1970’s, when Moninalist and Postmodernist styles became more popular. However, it remained popular in the East until the fall of Communism.
In recent years, there has been a revival in Brutalist architecture. Architects have been looking back at this style and finding different ways to incorporate it into modern buildings.
One of the most well-known examples is the London 2012 Olympics aquatic centre. This building is a perfect example of how Brutalism can still be functional while also being aesthetically pleasing.
Another good example of a modern brutalist building is the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre, designed by architects Robertson and Partners. The building features large concrete planes intersecting at different heights.
Brutalism is also making a comeback in the world of home building.
Brutalism vs. Concrete
The terms Brutalism and Concrete are often used to refer to specific buildings or architectural styles. Brutalism refers to the style of architecture, while concrete buildings are often associated with the material they are made from. However, there is a fine line between the two.
Concrete buildings are usually Brutalist, but not all Brutalist buildings are made from concrete. For example, landmarks such as London’s Centre Point and the Boston City Hall are considered to be Brutalist architecture. However, they are both made from steel and glass, not concrete.
Brutalism in Minecraft
Minecraft’s development team has stated that it plans to add the Brutalist architecture style to the game soon. This will enable players to create realistic concrete-based buildings in game.
The main advantage of Brutalism is its flexibility. Many buildings in this style are designed with large, open spaces. This allows players to easily modify the interiors without having to get rid of walls and move things around. This makes the style perfect for player-built creations.
Brutalism’s simple design means that it is easy to replicate in Minecraft. The style’s popularity has also increased in recent years. Many players are likely to recognize the buildings and structures as well. However, this might also lead to players not finding the style as interesting.
There are also concerns that Brutalism’s sudden popularity in Minecraft might affect the style’s revival.
The most common argument against Brutalism is that it lacks character. Compared to other architecture styles such as gothic or Tudor, concrete buildings are rather bland in terms of aesthetics. There is a limit to how many exposed concrete slabs players can look at without getting bored.
Minecraft’s Brutalist update might also be problematic for players with low-end computers. One of the main characteristics of Brutalist buildings is their extensive use of concrete. This means that players with low-end computers might struggle to render the 3D blocks of concrete. This might lead to players using fewer Brutalist buildings in their creations.
In general, there is a lot of interest for the Brutalist architecture style. Whether Minecraft’s Brutalism update will be successful or not remains to be seen.
Sources & references used in this article:
Architecture and revolution: contemporary perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe by N Leach – 1999 – books.google.com
The Enemy on Display: The Second World War in Eastern European Museums by Z Bogumił, J Wawrzyniak, T Buchen, C Ganzer – 2015 – books.google.com
Last landscapes: The architecture of the cemetery in the West by K Worpole – 2003 – books.google.com
The art and architecture of Russia by GH Hamilton – 1983 – books.google.com
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