Brutalist Architecture and its 50 iconic heroes

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Brutalism is an architectural style from the 50s and 60s that began in the United Kingdom. Brutalist Architecture can be elaborated as raw with no ornamentation and exposed building materials used in a monolithic way. Majorly showcasing the concrete in its raw beauty employed in various geometric shapes.

Since the beginning of the revolutionary composite material concrete, the construction industry started skyrocketing. Concrete was cheaper, more durable, sturdy, and strong to build. It also had a subtle gray color that could change its tones per the density. Many architects fell in love with that gray concrete color and began to adopt it as more than just a construction material.

Due to its less tensile strength, concrete can be molded into various shapes and forms. In the early modernist era, many architects began working with concrete and expressing its raw quality in aesthetics. The major exposed concrete works began in the UK, where brutalism was taking place. Later the language got adapted rapidly by other architects and in other parts of the world.

The following 50 are the most iconic Brutalist Architecture examples that you can not miss;

Geisel Library – California, USA

Architect: William Pereira

Geisel Library is an important part of the University of California, designed by renowned architect William Pereira in the late 60s. As part of the rise in Brutalist Architecture, Geisel Library is one of the first examples describing the Brut style.

Habitat 67 – Montreal, Canada

Architect: Moshe Safdie

Habitat 67 is probably the most unique and interesting housing complex, situated on the Saint Lawrence River in Montreal, Canada. Designed by Israeli-Canadian architect, Moshe Safdie, Habitat 67 has become an architectural landmark in Canada.

Boston City Hall – Boston, USA

Architect:  Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles and Campbell, Aldrich & Nulty

Being one of the ten most impressive architectural marvels in American history, Boston City Hall struggled with people’s negative views at the time. A true masterpiece of the Brutalist style, the hall expresses the bold exposed concrete language in a rather appreciable aesthetics.

Knowlton Hall – Ohio, USA

Architect: Mack Scogin, Merril Elam

Knowlton Hall can be debatable whether it should be considered Brutalism or Contemporary architecture style. However, the stark structure and volumes express a Brutalist style, the project is rather modern, commissioned in the 2000s.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels – Los Angeles, USA

Architect: Rafael Moneo

Cathedral of Our Lady of The Angles is a Roman Catholic Church designed by Rafael Moneo in the 90s. Even though being in the modernist period, the building resembles of Brutalism through its stark structural volumes and various modules.

Central Bank of Dublin – Dublin, Ireland

Architect: Sam Stephenson

In the late 60s, the design proposal was something unique to gulp by the Ireland authorities and was turned down several times before commissioning the project. The design was the only suspended structure in Ireland at the time, that later on became a landmark and a vital Brutalist Architecture example.

National Theatre – London, England

Architect: Denys Lasdun, Peter Softley

The National Theatre of London sits alongside The Royal Opera House and The Royal Shakespeare Company, a significant location. It houses three separate theatres in a Brutalist language inside-out. 

The Macadam and Strand Buildings – London, UK


Built-in the 70s, The Macadam building is considered to be one of the vital Brutalist buildings of London.

Unité d’Habitation – Marseilles, France

Architect: Le Corbusier 

Le Corbusier was commissioned to begin one of the most important residential housing typologies in the 20s. The Berlin housing was the first part of the entire typology that quickly became a phenomenon in the Brutalist Architecture style for its perfect geometry, linearity, and of course the Le Corbusier color additions.

Paul Rudolf Hall – Connecticut, USA

Architect: Paul Rudolph

The hall was designed in the early 60s by Paul Rudolph in the Brutalist style of architecture. At the time the building housed the Yale School of Architecture and the School of Art. Interestingly, the building contains almost 30-floor levels in seven stories altogether.

The Barbican Centre- London, UK

Architect: Chamberlin, Powell and Bon

Barbican Center was one of Europe’s largest performing arts centers, designed by Peter Chamberlin and Geoffry Powell in a true Brutalist Architectural manner. The center consists of a hall, two theatres, an art gallery, three cinema screens, a library, three various restaurants, seven concert halls, two exhibition halls, and an informal performance space.

Trellick Tower – London, UK

Architect: Erno Goldfinger

Trellick Tower is situated in London by Hungarian-born architect, Erno Goldfinger. It was his last project that at the time began in a Brutalist manner, though later became popular for vandalism and crimes. In addition, in the 60s, high-rises were on the rise which served as an example for the Trellick Tower design.

Queen Elizabeth Hall – London, UK

Architect: Hubert Bennett, Jack Whittle F.G West Geoffrey Horsefall

The Southbank Center’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, designed by Hubert Bennett, Jack Whittle F.G West Geoffrey Horsefall, was opened by the Majesty herself in the late 60s. The hall was an extension of the Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery, which were already designed in an exposed concrete manner.

The Breuer Building – New York City, USA

Architect: Marcel Breuer

In the 20s, when Brutalism and Modernism were going hand-in-hand, Marcel Breuer from the Bauhaus period, was one of the known architects that made his mark. The Breuer Building, now known as a museum on 945 Madison Avenue, is an important landmark in the bustling New York City.  The entire museum is based on concrete inside and out, where the structure expands out in layers, providing a canopy while entering.

Buffalo City Court – Buffalo, USA

Architect: Pfohl, Roberts and Biggie

The Buffalo City Court is a 10-story high-rise building, designed by Pfohl and Robers & Biggie in the 70s in a Brutalism style. The building facade expresses large empty surfaces with narrow windows incorporated in between.

SESC Pompeia – Sao Paulo, Brazil

Architect: Lina Bo Bardi

The Italian architect, Lina Bo Bardi designed the Art and Culture Center which was once a factory site. The whole design is intriguing in terms of two huge 8-story towers, connected through 8 pedestrian bridges, entirely in exposed concrete with wood shuttering.

Wotruba Church – Vienna, Austria

Architect: Fritz Wotruba

Fritz Wotruba was an Austrian artist and sculpturist who designed the Wotruba Church in the late 70s which became a vital example of Brutalist Architecture. The building is in a unique formation of large chunks of concrete, separated with narrow windows in between.

Telecommunication Center – Skopje, Macedonia

Architect: Janco Konstantinov 

The Telecommunication Center is designed by Janco Konstantinov in the 60s in a Brutalist style of architecture after the huge earthquake in Skopje. The center is more of a sculpture than just a regular building, designed in textured concrete of all sides of the facades.

Marina City – Chicago, USA

Architect: Bertrand Goldberg

Chicago is well-known for being a metropolitan city, comprising numerous interesting high-rises for a very long time. In the 60s, when Marina City work was going on, it was the tallest residential complex design in the city. The architect had no prior experience in building such large-scale apartments, though Marina City has been one of the most iconic examples of Brutalism in the world.

Western City Gate – Belgrade, Serbia

Architect: Mihajlo Mitrovic

The Western City Gate is a 36-story high-rise building designed in the Brutalist style of architecture by Serbian architect, Mihajlo Mitrovic in the 70s. The building consists of two connecting towers and a revolving restaurant on the top, which was unique at the time.

Institute of Hygiene and Microbiology – Germany

Architect: Hermann Fehling and Daniel Gogel

Built-in the 70s, the institute is an integral part of Germany’s Brutalist architecture scenario, designed by Harman Fehling and Daniel Gogel. It is also considered to be an important building post-war in Germany.

Choux de Créteil – Paris, France

Architect: Gerard Grandval

The Choux are four residential towers in the Parisian suburbs, designed in the 70s in a unique Brutalist style. The name ‘Choux’ meaning cabbage was the name given because of the balcony shape. The building got many praises for its creativity and showcasing Brutalist style in a different way.

Caserne des Pompiers – Paris, France

Architect: Jean Willerval and Prvoslav Popovic

Caserne des Pompiers is one of the earliest buildings in the 70s to use pre-cast concrete modules, designed by Jean Willerval and Prvoslav Popovic. In a Brutalist style, the building showcases the use of concrete in art deco-type window framings in exposed concrete.

Torre Velasca – Milan, Italy

Architect: BBPR Architecture

In the 50s when Milan was becoming a hub of many industries, the BBPR Architectural group was commissioned to design something representing the growing city. Torre Velasca’s design was Brutalist and yet quite modern to be in the city, which was highly criticized by the local public, and to date it struggles with the criticisms. Although, the building design is unique in terms of the structure expanding upper stories and its windows in the facades placed according to the interior functionality. 

Cité Radieuse Marseille, France

Architect: Le Corbusier

The Cité Radieuse is a renowned UNESCO world heritage site in France, designed by Le Corbusier, the pioneer architect for his love of exposed concrete and building Brutalist buildings across many countries. Whereas, the housing block represents unique use of form and style in a modern adaptation.

Sky house – Tokyo, Japan

Architect: Kiyonori Kikutake

In 1958, Japanese architect Kiyonori Kikutake designed this Sky House for himself which still stands as an important example for Brutalist Architecture. The form express particular geometry emphasizing the concrete thick slabs and the use of wooden screens in contrast generate warmth to the entire square structure.

Innovation Centre – Santiago, Chile

Architect: Alehandro Aravena

The Innovation Center in UC, Santiago is the epitome of Brutalist Architecture examples, where the building is literally a gigantic, singular block of concrete with cut-outs within. Even though designed in quite modern times, the building is considered in Brutalism style for its shape, form, and monolithic material use.

Palace of Assembly – Chandigarh, India

Architect: Le Corbusier

The Palace of Assembly is one of the classics in the world when comes to Brutalist Architecture buildings. During Le Corbusier’s time in India, he designed numerous buildings that changed the Indian infrastructure fabric in the 50s and 60s. The Palace of Assembly was commissioned by the President of India himself as an important government establishment.

Mill Owner’s Association – Ahmedabad, India

Architect: Le Corbusier

Ahmedabad Textile Mill Owner’s Association House, in short, ATMA House was designed in the 50s by world-renowned architect, Le Corbusier. When Le Corbusier visited India, the president of the association invited him to Ahmedabad to build a new headquarters which even in today’s time is considered an important and educational property for architects.

High Court – Punjab, India

Architect: Le Corbusier

Another masterpiece of Mr. Corbusier was the High Court in the state of Punjab and Haryana, during his time in India. Mr. Corbusier designed the building in his signature style of Brutalism, combining it with unique forms in the concrete and his signature color-blocking way.

Pringiers House – Sri Lanka

Architect: Tadao Ando

During the 50s, 60s, and 70s, almost all architects were trying to practice with the viral material, concrete. One of those was Tadao Ando, born in the 40s in Osaka, Japan. His works are majorly about exposed concrete and Brutalism style of architecture. The Pringiers House in Sri Lanka has been an amazing example of Tadao Ando’s craftsmanship and Brutalism.

City Hall – Tel Aviv, Israel

Architect: Menachem Cohen

Tel Aviv is a hub for designers and architects from all around the world where the City Hall was designed in the 50s. The hall became popular as the city’s important landmark for its Brutalist style of design and its simplicity in the facades.

Boston Government City Center – Boston, USA

Architect: Paul Rudolph

The Boston City Center, designed by Paul Rudolf in the 60s is an important example of Brutalist architecture. The building is in simple forms and showcases details such as textured concrete and layers of structures that make it unique.

Secretariat Building – Chandigarh, India

Architect: Le Corbusier

The Secretariat Building explores Butalism in its most prominent way with proper geometry and raw exposed concrete. Here Mr. Corbusier has not used color blocking to keep the gray concrete as the hero.

33 Thomas Street – Manhattan, USA

Architect: John Carl Warnecke

The 33 Thomas Street building is a 29-story commercial complex, comprising of telephone company and telephone switching equipment. Hence, the entire high rise has almost no windows and the floor height is a whopping 18 feet high.

Birmingham Central Library – Birmingham, UK

Architect: John Madin

Birmingham Central Library is one of many examples of Brutalist architecture in the UK. It was the main library at the time in Birmingham, designed by John Madin in the 70s. IT expresses a similar form of expanding upper stories as per some other buildings of the time, with unique detailing underneath the cantilever slabs.

Center for Visual and Performing Arts – Massachusetts, USA

Architect: Paul Rudolph

Paul Rudolf was an American architect whose works have been notable during the 60s and the 70s. One of his best Brutalism examples focuses on the University of Massachusetts where he expresses bold and dramatic design for the main campus buildings in the most Brutalist style.

Ilinden Memorial – North Macedonia

Architect: Prilep architects Iskra and Jordan Grabul

Ilinden Mecidonian, also known as the Makedonium is a memorial designed to commemorate the fighters involved in the Linden uprising in 1903. The form has been one of the most striking and unique designs in Brutalist architecture.

Sirius Building – Wales, Australia

Architect: Tao Gofers

Designed by Dutch architect, Tao Gofers in the late 70s, the building is a residential complex in Wales, Australia. After fights over keeping the building in its Brutalist language, it stands as one of the last few Brutalist buildings in Australia.

Elion Hitchings Building – North Carolina, USA

Architect: Paul Rudolph

Designed by Paul Rudolph, the building is a beautiful extension of its contextual hilly site in North Carolina. It is considered to be one of the most iconic Brutalist Architecture examples in the U.S. to date.

National Cooperative Development Corporation – New Delhi, India

Architect: Kuldip Singh

Kuldip Singh designed this bare concrete government structure which later on became a phenomenal example of Brutalism in India. Although, now it is known as a ‘modern heritage’ building for its shape, form, and alternate material use in the façade.

IIT Kanpur – Kanpur, India

Architect: Achyut Kanvinde

Achyut Kanvinde is one of the well-renowned architects of the Modernist period in India. He designed the IIT Kanpur in a Brutalist style combining exposed concrete and bricks and created an extended upper slab supported through giant tall columns. The architectural language is still an interesting example of unique structures. 

St. Joseph’s Hospital – Washington, USA

Architect: Bertrand Goldberg

Bertrand Goldberg designed this hospital in Tacoma, Washington in the 60s in an extremely complex form. At the time, this building was one of a kind because of its strong curves in the plan and round windows in the facades.

‘The Egg’ Center for the Performing Arts – Albany, USA

Architect: Wallace Harrison

The Egg is designed by Wallace Harrison in the 70s. The form in itself is unique and some might argue for it to be more modern than Brutalist. Though, it is considered to be a Brutalist building example for its bold form in the shape of an egg, supported by a complex structure.

Grand Central Water Tower – Midrand, South Africa

Architect: GAPP Architects & Urban Designers

The Grand Central Water Tower was an acknowledging project to the Brutalist style of architecture, designed in the 90s. The design is in the form of a concrete container with cut-outs on top and in the middle for the ventilation.

Orange County Offices – Gohsen, USA

Architect: Paul Rudolph

Orange County Offices is a government building designed by the renowned architect Paul Rudolph in the 70s. The building is amongst many of Paul’s designs, showcasing intriguing forms created in the Brutalist style using exposed concrete and textured concrete. Also, it expressed one of the most interesting facade designs in the US at the time. 

Ministry Of Highway Construction – Tbilisi, Georgia

Architect: George Chakhava and Zurab Zalaghania

Besides being an example of Brutalism, the Ministry of Highway Construction is also an example of Communist buildings in Tbilisi, Georgia. The building is unique in terms of its formation of each block stacked perpendicularly on top of each other.

Jenaro Valverde Marin Building – Costa Rica

Architect: Alberto Linner Diaz

Architect Alberto Linner Diaz designed this Marin building in the 70s in a true Brutalist style of architecture. Besides the plan and sections being simple, the façade showcases visual complexity and creative formations.

Welbeck Street Car Park – London, UK

Architect: Sam Jacob

At first glance the Welbecke Car Park Building takes all the attention on the street for its concrete framing structure in the facades. Architect Sam Jacob designed it in the 70s as a Brutalist building which quickly grabbed the attention of the architecture press.

The post Brutalist Architecture and its 50 iconic heroes appeared first on The Architects Diary.

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