Brutalism explained

Have you ever seen a building that looks like a giant concrete monster? That's called Brutalism! It might seem strange at first, but Brutalism is a style of architecture that has its own unique charm. In this article, we will explore what Brutalism is, its history, how it influenced design, and why it still matters today.

What is Brutalism?

Brutalism is a post-war style of architecture that became popular in the 1950s and 1960s. It is known for its strong, solid, and raw look, with buildings made of concrete and sharp edges. The word "Brutalism" comes from the French term "béton brut," which means "raw concrete."


Key architects

Brutalism was pioneered by several key architects. One such architect is Le Corbusier, a Swiss-French designer who believed that buildings should be functional and practical. Le Corbusier's famous works include the Unité d'Habitation (La maison radieuse) in Marseille, France, which is a towering residential building with clean lines and exposed concrete.

Another important figure in the Brutalist movement is Paul Rudolph, an American architect known for his innovative use of concrete. Rudolph's Yale Art and Architecture Building in New Haven, Connecticut, is a striking example of Brutalism, with its geometric forms and massive concrete structure.

On the left: Unite d'Habitation by Le Corbusier. On the right: Yale Art and Architecture Building by Paul Rudolph

Notable buildings

Several buildings have come to symbolize the essence of Brutalist architecture. One such notable building is the Barbican Estate in London, England. This massive residential complex, designed by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, features a series of concrete towers and walkways, creating a unique and imposing presence in the cityscape.

Another iconic Brutalist structure is Boston City Hall, designed by three Columbia University professors (Kallmann, McKinnell & Knowles). The building structure has received mixed review, at times called the world's ugliest building.

In Canada, Habitat 67, an experimental modular housing designed by architect Moshe Safdie for Expo 67, offers a vision for the future of cities. Using a variety of geometric arrangements, each property has its own identity and featured its own roof garden.

Habitat 67 by Moshe Safdie - Brutalism

These buildings, along with many others, have left a lasting impact on the world of architecture and continue to be admired for their strength and character.

Brutalism in design

Inspired by architects like Le Corbusier, designers adopted similar principles to challenge traditional norms. They aimed to create honest, functional, and boldly unapologetic designs. With raw and unpolished elements, stark color palettes, bold typography, and asymmetrical layouts, Brutalism creates a visual impact that breaks free from conventions.

Watch "Brutalism -  Brutalist Vs Anti-Design" (video by Satori Graphics)

Impact on web design

Brutalism impacts web design by challenging conventions through asymmetrical layouts, unconventional color combinations, and bold typography. This creates a fresh and unique visual experience, breaking away from cookie-cutter designs.

Watch "What is Brutalism in Website Design in 60 seconds" (video by Merge Interface)

Key takeaway

Brutalism in design continues to leave a lasting impact and is expected to remain one of the prominent trends in 2024 with its focus on functionality and simplicity.

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