In the UK relics of a controversial form of architecture known as ‘brutalism’ are being protected from demolition.

Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker reports from London.

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when Robin Hood Gardens estate was constructed in 1972 it was revered as a modernist icon it now faces imminent demolition the architects Alison and Peter Smithson were part of a post-war movement of young idealist who wanted to build a new egalitarian society the material chosen to express that vision concrete lots of it the new style was called Brutalism after the french breton brute or war concrete mists architecture speaks of an age that said everyone should have a decent home and they should have health and education that those are the values of the 1960s and 1970s the architecture for today says if you're rich well done if you're not we don't really care very much for you whether you love or loathe the severity of Brutalism estates like this were designed as high quality housing for the city's poor in recent years though the British government has blamed the design and the very fabric of these buildings for fostering crime but defenders of Brutalism say the poverty and neglect are more to blame the estate stands on valuable land next to gleaming new skyscrapers it's more lucrative for the cash-strapped local council to demolish the estate than refurbish it sometimes some blogs needs that extra money and some it's very difficult to kind of find the resources to bring a certain blog up to certain standard it will be replaced with this cheap and quick to build a mixture of social and private housing that can be sold for a profit it's far from the vision of botanists like renowned architect Nev Brown he blames 1980s capitalism for killing the brutalist dream we thought we were beginning to add to an organic growth of society that would continue and instead of becoming something that was integral with their developing culture it became an object from a previous historical moment in time but changing attitudes and politics mean brutal isms being re-evaluated Browns buildings are all culturally protected they cannot be demolished other buildings have become fashionable style icons here at the Barbican pen houses sell for more than four million dollars of what's fashionable is frequently profitable the capitalist economy may end up being the savior of some of these inherently socialist buildings but despite appeals from historians and leading architects it's too late to save Robin Hood Gardens the dream that never was neve barker al jazeera london

20 thoughts on “UK's 'Brutalist' architecture is back in vogue

  1. Personally, I don't like brutalist buildings (especially in UK). The constantly overcast skies are grim enough and if you look at such inhuman and stark constructions, one can't help but feel depressed and moody.

  2. Brutalism is often superb when it's theatres or university buildings. The architectural style is an iconic mix of modernism and as a precursor to postmodernism. With such diverse inspirations as medieval castles, Aztec architecture, Le Corbusier, and World War 2 bunkers, it is a very important statement of Festival of Britain era bold confidence meets 1960s faith in artists, engineers, technology, and progress. The British were arguably best at Brutalism. However, the style was arguably best suited, in practice, for creative intellectuals to work in, who can contextualise it (and probably go home to somewhere less stark to relax) or for 'can doers' to live in who, by embracing its stark geometry, were like artists with a blank canvas. Most truly awful buildings are badly maintained , cheap, far too uniform, bland, imitations of true Brutalism. Brutalism is unvarnishedly concretey – if it's not, it's something else. There is no requirement for Brutalism to be what might seem an inhumanly high number of floors. Ones of about only 5 floors high are some of the best. I wish for British Brutalism to be vigourously protected. It creates stories in the mind, acts as a fortress of inner ideas.

  3. This building doesn't look like it's worth preserving, the others that are already protected are way more iconic. Also notice how adding green and flowers immediately makes them better. They should do that everywhere.

  4. Chicken coops.

    Poor families were removed from their Victorian terraces – where people interacted and knew their neighbors so these monstrosities could be put up.

    Three times as many chickens hosted on half the land.

    Blocks of flats encouraged vandalism and isolation.

    They were a BAD idea, created to house a growing population cheaply…

    The intellectual bullshit spouted by the Brutalists – was propaganda nothing more, despite the posh accents.

    They 'brutalized' the inner city populations… and began the Demoralization of the working class.

    Architects should be forced to live in their creations.

  5. Money will be the downfall of mankind. It holds us back in so many ways.

    How many innovations were never realized because of lack of money, and competing with those who have a shittonne of it?

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