Concrete is something existing in a material or physical form while Reality is the aggregate of all that is real. At first glance it may seem like a pleonasm. But Concrete is also a composite material resulting from the aggregation of gravel with cement and water. While At its core, the word concrete means ‘together, to grow’, it is one of the most frequently used building materials.
Through this game of words, I tried to describe brutalism, to describe these raw beautiful monolithic buildings.
The term ‘brutalism’ was coined by the British architects Alison and Peter Smithson, and popularised by the architectural historian Reyner Banham in 1954. It derives from ‘Béton brut’ (raw concrete) and was first associated in architecture with Le Corbusier, who designed the Cite Radieuse in Marseilles in the late-1940s.
Brutalism became a popular style throughout the 1960s as the austerity of the 1950s gave way to dynamism and self-confidence. It was commonly used for government projects, educational buildings such as universities, car parks, leisure and shopping centres, and high-rise blocks of flats.
Brutalism was generally characterised by its rough, unfinished surfaces, unusual shapes, heavy-looking materials, straight lines, and small windows. Modular elements were often used to form masses representing specific functional zones, grouped into a unified whole. As well as concrete, other materials commonly used in Brutalist buildings included brick, glass, steel, rough-hewn stone and gabions.
The buildings presented in this photography series are:
The Barbican Centre (1971) is a performing arts centre in the Barbican Estate of the City of London and the largest of its kind in Europe.
A Grade II listed building, the Barbican is one of London’s best examples of Brutalist architecture. The Barbican Centre took over a decade to build, only opening long after the surrounding Barbican Estate housing complex had been built. It is situated in an area which was badly bombed during World War II. Designed by Peter Chamberlin, Geoffry Powell and Christoph Bon of Chamberlin, Powell and Bon.
The Centre was opened by The Queen in 1982, who declared it ‘one of the modern wonders of the world’ with the building seen as a landmark in terms of its scale, cohesion and ambition. Its stunning spaces and unique location at the heart of the Barbican Estate have made it an internationally recognised venue, set within an urban landscape acknowledged as one of the most significant architectural achievements of the 20th century.