Thursday, July 30, 2015

17 Things About Brutalism

17 Things About Brutalism

(Reposted without permission from the @McKldnFntn twitter stream, starting here)

1) Can we talk about the Brutalism thing? Let's talk about the Brutalism thing.

2) We like to say that it's misunderstood, that it comes from the French: 'béton brut', or 'raw concrete'.

3) But the 'béton brut' origin myth, is not the full story.

4) I've got to be honest here, it's partly meant like it is, like it sounds: brutal.

5) Blame it on Reyner Banham, the project he identifies as the zero point of 'The New Brutalism' is a school by the Smithsons, w/ no concrete.

6) He means 'brutal' as in 'brutally honest', or 'brutally real', but also in another sense ...

7) … in his essay, is talking about an architecture that's rational, but also that manifests an emotional impact.

8) This is architecture that people have strong feelings about, and that's intentional. It doesn't fade into the background.

9) It's also a deeply optimistic architecture, made by people who really believed form could allow culture to change for the better.

10) We want our friends, like our cities, to do more than just comfort us, they should challenge and engage us.

11) Our friends, our architecture, and our cities, should be complex, diverse, open, and honest.

12) And the, often brutal, reality of civic life, is this isn't easy. It's hard. It's something we have to make a choice to address.

13) But if we erase these opportunities in our city to engage with difficulty and difference, we're worse off for it.

14) Demolition is admitting to ourselves that we'd rather believe half-truths, about form, function and material in cities.

15) To engage with brutalism is to engage with the very stuff that cities are made of: material & geometry, that's a platform for interaction.

16) You can erase that & install grass, or trees, but remember that before the trees, there was concrete, & concrete was for everyone.

17) The world is concrete, it is the metaphor that is not a metaphor. Reality is concrete, but also abstract, just like brutalism.

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