Brutalist Architecture: All You Need To Know

August 24, 2020


There was probably no single architectural style (and whether or not that was one style that was yet being discussed) that was demonized and hated as much as brutalism, especially in the 70s, 80s, and even 90. Check out brutalist architecture.

From different sources comes the reasons for this unsolicited crucifixion of seemingly harmless, like the styles of a building. Others rely on universal canons of beauty, and the seemingly rough concrete wasn't exactly the prettiest sight of its time.

However, as society continued to move forward and shift its perspective, a strange phenomenon struck us in the 2010s: Brutalist Architecture became popular. Here we are in a new era, watching the style finally achieve its long-awaited recognition, even as it is fetishized and replicated through collectible vinyl toys and similar consumer goods.

So how did the ultimate villain suddenly become a hero?

Start of brutalist architecture

Stylistically, brutalism probably came from the eminent modernist architect Le Corbusier and his Unité d'Habitation project in 1952. The style was adopted relatively quickly by British architects and gradually became easily identifiable with the capital itself.

Although it is thought to be first implemented by Le Corbusier, brutalism cannot be fully equated with the term modernism. Perhaps we could describe it as a kind of alternation: modern architecture with a more lively character, perhaps. Some would even say that brutalism appears as a cross between modernism and postmodernism in the history of architecture.

Brutalism: an explanation of the term

However, the term brutalism does not probably come from Le Corbusier. Several other versions of the story make it difficult to determine the truth, but none of them involve the first thing that comes to anybody's mind.

Brutalism has nothing related with brutality; as such, at least that was not their intention. The house itself, however, has little to do with Brutalist architecture as we know it in the form today.

According to the 3rd version of the story, according to which Peter Smithson's nickname Brutus was the one that decided the name of the Brutalist. It was probably a blend of all of these three versions.

Brutalist architecture

Villa Göth

Peter Smithson, the architect, mentioned above, and his wife Alyson Smithson, was one of the leading figures of brutalism in Britain. Like Erno Goldfinger, the Hungarian-born architect, who designed the famous Trellick Tower and the Balfron Tower. When you look at their designs, there's no question that all Brutalist buildings have one thing in common: concrete, of course.

Concrete is mostly used in Brutalist architecture because it is a flexible and straightforward material that responds to authentic architectural expression. It is still very clear and noticeable when dry. Since the word "honesty" sounds attractive on its own, let's try to explain why architects and theorists use it confidently. This is what it is, and Brutalist architecture relies on the people who live or work there to understand and appreciate it.

Brutalist buildings victims of modern society

Given that most of this architecture emerged in the 1960s and continued into the 1970s, you can probably imagine the mentality surrounding brutalism. It was based in part on ​​social equality and hope. It is especially in communist countries (where it also played an important role).

Associated with Futurism was Brutalist architecture. This is a brilliant vision of the future, as presented initially, close to how people imagined utopia. But as you know, utopia quite quickly turns into dystopia. This is especially under the influence of the 1968 revolution and among young people influenced by Orwell.

Thanks to all the unsolicited political and social connotations, brutalism suffered the consequences of the transmutation of communism into totalitarianism. This caused popular culture to portray brutalist architecture differently. Shared spaces turn into dangerous terrain, "honest" buildings turn into concrete monstrosities, and before you know it.   Now you can find a host of movies that use brutalist architecture as a backdrop to violence.


A great designer platform YUGEN is very famous for their piece on Brutalist Architecture. They have a lot of cool content as well so worth checking out the rest of there content  HERE

What do you think of Brutalist Architecture? Leave your thoughts and comments below. We want to know what you think of this type of architecture. Is this your favorite type of architecture? If not, which type of architecture if your favorite one?

JJ Sterling
As the co-founder of Urban Splatter and an architecture graduate from Chicago, I thrive on crafting a digital nexus where architectural innovation intersects with boundless digital opportunity. My academic roots in the Windy City's rich architectural tapestry inspire a unique vision for Urban Splatter's journey into the ever-evolving digital frontier of design. Join us as we navigate the exciting confluence of structure, style, and technology.

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