Brutalist Architecture – An Aesthetic and Unapologetic Form of Architecture


For those who are unaware of the Brutalist Architecture, it is a grand and powerful style of architecture which became popular around the 1950s after the second world war. Not very pleasing to the eyes at first look, this architectural style stands out for its boldness. This style remained quite popular till the 80s as most of the institutional and Civic buildings during this phase were built in the brutalist style. Even the interior designing during this time was brutalist inspired.

How It Came to Be Called ‘Brutal’

The story behind the name of this architectural style is quite impressive. It doesn’t have anything to do with the word, ‘brutal’ of the English language, which means fierce and aggressive. It in fact came from a French phrase, ‘béton Burt,’ which means unfinished or raw concrete. The brutalist style emphasized on endurance rather than beautiful designs.

The emergence of brutalist architecture happened after the end of the second world war. This style of architecture is also called socialist architecture as most of the countries which were going through reconstruction were ideologically socialist. They were looking for an inexpensive form of architecture, which could be practical and fast-paced. Concrete was reasonably low cost and helpful in speedy reconstruction.

The credit of starting brutalist architecture is given to the Swiss architect Le Corbusier, who designed many world-famous brutalist buildings throughout his career. Corbusier emphasized more on the structure of the building than its appearance. Not just Britain and America, even Germany, Japan, France, and Italy adopted to follow this style. London is considered as the capital of brutalist architecture as it has several famous brutalist buildings.

Brutalism was at its peak in the early 70s in America. Interestingly, its downfall also started in the same decade as people began to lose their interest in the style. Costly maintenance, difficulty in remodeling, and functional shortcomings were the main reasons for the downfall of brutalism. The architectural style lost its charm among people and became an equivalent of a wrong choice in their minds.

Now, after three decades, brutalist architecture is again making a comeback. Due to its longevity and grandeur, people have again started considering brutalism as the way forward. Many brutalist buildings are getting UNESCO recognition too. It is clear brutalism is well and truly back. Here are some of the most famous Brutalist buildings today:

  1. Sirius Building, Sydney

The Sirius building is one of the landmarks in Sydney. Designed in 1979, this building offers some of the best views of the City and the harbor-side.

  1. Trellick Tower, London

Built for the people who became homeless after the second world war, this building was once labeled as the ugliest building on the planet. Established in 1972, this building will always remain a part of history.

  1. Economist Plaza, London

Designed in 1964, this was one of the earliest brutalist building in London. It served as the office for The Economist Magazine, for more than 50 years.