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Brutal London: A Photographic Exploration of Post-War London

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There’s the City University building in Northampton Square, Finsbury, which was designed by Sheppard Robson and built between 1960 and 1976; Elia Mews in Islington, designed by the Greater London Council and built in the late 60s; and Quaker Court in Banner Street, Bunhill, also designed by the GLC and built at a similar time. Now a Grade I listed brutalist building, the Royal Festival Hall plays host to regular concerts and is part of the nearby Southbank Centre. Local food we should all try one day? Hmmm… meat dumplings, in Russian their known as Pelmeni and Pastila, which is a fruit confection. Out of town, I’m a big fan of Caesar Salad, definitely not part of the traditional Russian cuisine . The brutalist Barbican Estate is located in the City of London Square Mile and we’d recommend you arrive via Barbican Tube station.

Jean Dubuffet | Barbican Jean Dubuffet | Barbican

A (probably inflationary) surge of building will need socially concerned architects who we hope will have the common sense to investigate what went wrong with the estates of the 1960s and 1970s and build with a mind to sustainability and durability (rather than to meet eco-fashion). Rooted in Modernism and evident in the work of Le Corbusier in the late 1940s, the term brutalism was first used in an architectural context by Swedish architect Hans Asplund in 1950 who discussed nybrutalism. In 1954 architectural critic Reyner Banham used the term more widely in his writings to refer to the work of English architects Alison and Peter Smithson. The couple who went on to create the iconic Hunstanton School in Norfolk and later, the Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar, East London. Their style rebelled against the more formal architecture of the 1930s and 40s. This piece of prime London brutalism also recently caught the attention of Grammy winner Harry Styles, with the brutalist Barbican taking a starring role in his music video for As It Was. To be fair, we always thought One Direction’s original music was also pretty Brutal.City University. Picture: Simon Phipps / Extracted from Brutal London by Simon Phipps. (Image: Archant) Tom Spooner on Brutalism & Music– An exploration of the relationship between brutalist architecture and music. We discovered Lulot Gardens quite by accident whilst exploring for our Highgate blog. Lulot Gardens was designed by Peter Tabori and it seems he was VERY inspired by the brutalist Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate – they are so similar and this just feels like a dainty version of it. Chances are that if you think of Brutalist buildings in London, you will think of the Barbican Centre. This Grade II listed building is Europe’s largest multi-arts and conference venues and one of the city’s most ambitious post-war architectural projects. The estates were the new society but only in its theorising. They presumed a type of human who would be happy to be functionally assigned their bit of space and play their role in society but this assumed they would have an autonomous role in society not merely be atomised by capitalism.

Brutal London: Construct Your Own Concrete Capital

In an interview with the Financial Times, Dr Jonathan Foyle, the chief executive of the World Monuments Fund Britain, provided interesting architectural context for Brutalist buildings: “They are very muscular and everything is perhaps bigger than it needs to be, and for that reason I feel that brutalism is a modern take on gothic architecture… Both were designed from the inside out – the purpose of the building and what happens inside is the important part – the outside is merely the envelope that wraps it up.” Cut out and build your own Lauderdale Tower from Barbican Estate by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. The kit includes an informative note on the building. Its patrons were not from the private sector (in general) but the democratic representatives of the taxpayer. They expressed an idealistic generosity of spirit (long since abandoned) that actively wanted to house every working class family in a home albeit one still owned by the community at large.The architectural experiment, the result of noble minds wanting to do rational noble things, broke on the fact that the ultimate local authority patrons of the experiment lost interest because of political, social, economic and cultural pressures out of their control.

of the Best Brutalist Architecture in London A Walking Tour of the Best Brutalist Architecture in London

By doing away with, to some extent, the Brutalist’s straight edges and hard lines, One Kemble Street makes itself into a fine example of the brash, brutalist architecture of the 60s – one that shows little care for the buildings around it but stakes a big claim to its landscape. We are also about to go into another lengthy period of austerity after another even lengthier period of economic mismanagement by elites who represent that upper middle class interest before all others. If the Bank of England is to believed we face three years of zero growth. In fact, the avant-garde structure of the building was also meant to reflect the programme of events happening inside – creating a synergy between form and function that is reflected elsewhere in the building. For example, in the interior’s “classless-designed” bars and restaurants and the open foyer policy that allowed public access during opening hours. National Theatre Opening with an informative history of the origins and philosophy of Brutalism, the book features 9 buildings to assemble: Alexandra Road Estate, Alton Estate, Aylesbury Estate, Ledbury Estate, National Theatre, Robin Hood Gardens, Barbican Estate, Balfron Tower and Space House.You can visit the Royal Festival Hall foyer for free, plus there is a nice cafe and riverside terrace here to enjoy a coffee or craft beer.

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To get the best Brutalist architecture view of the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate in Camden, London, head to the east end of the estate and climb up the stairs by the boarded up shops to get views from the upper levels. The Barbican area was devastated by bombing during WWII and the replacement residential buildings that make up the Barbican Estate were completed by the early 1970s. Brutalism wasn’t just used for high-rises, though. With the Alexandra Road estate, completed in 1978, architect Neave Brown saw the architectural style as a way to construct a modernist vision of a terraced street. Its architectural merits – although chastised for its expense during the time of construction – was recognised early, becoming the first post-war council estate to be listed in 1993. As was the case with its high-rise cousins, the flats in the Alexandra Road estate were designed to be egalitarian, a notion that holds true with the majority of Brutalist housing.

I doubt that we will ever see the revival of an architecture that was so much of its time if only because technologies have moved on even if we were to have the imagination to reintroduce badly needed mass social housing. But did brutalism fail or did society fail? I tend to think more of the latter. Designed in the 1970s and just a stone’s throw from all the delights of Highgate Village and Waterlow Park, Lulot Gardens is a mix of private and council housing. The Alexandra Road Estate winds alongside Camden’s railway line, a swooping swish of striking architecture and intricate design that reflects Brutalism’s utopian vision.

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