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BLOG BEING UPDATED - TRY AGAIN LATER This blog records the controversial era of British architecture, 1960's Brutalism. Many Brutalist buildings have been demolished and many still are under threat


Brutalist event and exhibitions

The Architects

meet the architects behind the buildings

Buildings in danger

add to the list


Brutalism in Britain


Brutalism today

Does brutalism have a future?

Tuesday 8 September 2015

National Trust: Brutal Utopias

The National Trust, an institution dedicated to the provision of tearooms, gift shops and the conservation of crumbling country houses has begun to recognise the importance of the preservation and promotion of modern architecture. For ten days starting on the 25th September 2015 the National Trust in partnership with others will be hosting a series of unique one off events, tours and talks in celebration of brutalism. 

The tours include, the Brutalist elements of the Southbank complex (Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery) which will be soon closed for refurbishment works, tours of the recently restored Park Hill flats in Sheffield and Denis Lasdens work at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. There will also be the opportunity to rid a Routemaster bus in a series of expert-led bus tours of London’s other iconic Brutalist sites. 

Anyone wanting to take advantage of this opportunity should book straight away as the limited tickets are selling quickly! I was unable to secure tickets for the Brutalism: Brutal or Beautiful? talk ('a discussion of Brutalism’s legacy at the Southbank Centre'which looked very interesting.

Southbank Centre – Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery
Park Hill, Sheffield
University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich

Other Events:
Brutalism: Brutal or Beautiful? Sold Out :(
Routemaster bus tours

(National Trust website) More information 

Heritage Weekend (19th-20th Sept)

Here are some of the Brutalist Highlights for next weekends (19-20th September 2015) Open house London/heritage open days. This is a work in progress, if you have spotted any good brutalism open please get in touch! 

London - Camden

- 8 Stoneleigh Terrace (Highgate New Town, Stage 1)

Details: OPEN- Sunday 10am-to-5pm (includes hourly tours on a first come basis. Last tour 4pm. closed 1pm-2pm). Promises a tour of a flat and of the estate.  More information

- Alexandra Road Estate

Details: OPEN- Saturday | 10am-to-5pm (Last entry 4.30pm) with regular tours.

NOTE: This was in high demand last year, very long queues, I tried (and failed) to get in! Plan this one well! More information

- Alexandra Road Park (Alexander Road Estate)

Details: Saturday | 10am-to-5pm Hourly tours  
More information

- Royal College of Physicians

Details: Sunday | 11am-to-4pm (Regular architectural and garden tours bookable on the day. Lecture titled 'The Architecture of Sir Denys Lasdun' will start at 2.15pm and will be given by Dr Barnabas Calder.) 
More information

- Swiss Cottage Library

Details:  Saturday | 10am-to-5pm  Sunday | 11am-to-4pm 
More information

For more information, visit the open day websites:
Heritage Open days - England
Open House - London

Friday 19 June 2015

Robinhood gardens campaign updates - 1

Richard Rogers was featured on the today programme (BBC Radio 4) this morning
highlights - Here (or listen to it HERE from the Programme (from 02.21.40))

Also: A short video on Robinhood gardens

sounddelivery via YouTube

Thursday 18 June 2015


Write today to Tracy Crouch MP and the Department for Culture Media & Sport, the minster and department whose hands the future of Robinhood Gardens are in!

Contact Details 
Tracy Crouch MP, minster with responsibility - 
(EMAIL) tracey.crouch.mp@parliament.uk

Department for Culture Media & Sport

(ADDRESS)- Department for Culture, Media & Sport
100 Parliament Street


#SAVErobinhoodgardens is trending


Sent out yesterday 17 June : A letter from Simon Smithson and Richard Rogers asking you to help save Robin Hood Gardens:
"I am writing to ask you to support listing Robin Hood Gardens as a building of special architectural interest, in order to protect one of Britain’s most important post-war housing projects, designed by Alison and Peter Smithson, from demolition.
Previous efforts in 2009 to have the building listed failed, but the case has now been re-opened and we understand that the new Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage will be reviewing the arguments at the end of this week. The buildings, which offer generously-sized flats that could be refurbished, are of outstanding architectural quality and significant historic interest, and public appreciation and understanding of the value of modernist architecture has grown over the past five years, making the case for listing stronger than ever.
The UK's 20th Century Society has submitted a paper setting out why they believe Robin Hood Gardens should be listed (i.e. added it to the statutory list of buildings of special architectural and historical interest). Two further assessments are set out below:
“Alison and Peter Smithson were the inventors of the New Brutalism in the 1950s and as such they were the ‘bellwethers of the young' as Reyner Banham called them. In many ways [Robin Hood Gardens] epitomizes the Smithsons’ ideas of housing and city building. Two sculptural slabs of affordable housing create the calm and stress free place amidst the ongoing modernization of the London cityscape. The fa├žades of precast concrete elements act as screens that negotiate between the private sphere of the individual flats and the collective space of the inner garden and beyond. The rhythmic composition of vertical fins and horizontal ’streets-in-the-air' articulates the Smithsons’ unique proposition of an architectural language that combines social values with modern technology and material expression. Despite the current state of neglect and abuse Robin Hood Gardens comprises a rare, majestic gesture, both radical and generous in its aspiration for an architecture of human association. As such it still sets an example for architects around the world.”
Dr Dirk van den Heuvel, Delft University, Holland.
“The Smithsons were clearly great architects: the Economist Building, completed in 1964 and Grade I-listed in 1988, is without a doubt the best modern building in the historic centre of London. Robin Hood Gardens, which pioneered ‘streets in the air’ to preserve the public life of the East End terraces that it replaced, was the next large-scale job that the Smithsons embarked upon. It was architecturally and intellectually innovative. In my opinion, it is the most important social housing development from the post-war era in Britain.”
Lord Richard Rogers
Last time listing was considered the views of the architectural community were ignored but we believe there is now a real chance of saving the building for posterity but only if the Minister hears, first hand, the views of the profession on the architectural merits of these exceptional buildings.
Can we ask you to support the efforts of the 20th Century Society by writing right now to the Minster to support listing and saying why you believe Robin Hood Gardens should be saved?
Click here to open an e-mail to the relevant Minister at the Department for Culture Media and Sport, Tracey Crouch MP:
Also, can we ask you to forward this e-mail to anyone else you know who might be willing to help save these important buildings?
Yours faithfully,
Richard Rogers and Simon Smithson"

my post on Robinhood gardens 

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Trip to RIBA

A couple of days ago I visited the RIBA for the exhibition -widely advertised- on 'brutalist playgrounds'. The exhibition recreates three significant post-war concrete playgrounds built to provide space for adventure and play for children living in the new council estates. 

The exhibition which is a collaboration between the artist Simon Terrill and the architecture collective 'Assemble' recreates the concrete structures in compressed foam allowing visitors to safely interact with the exhibition - provided they take off their shoes!

Although the exhibition does not give much information on the playgrounds there is an excellent booklet provided for the exhibition featuring a interview with the creators and some background information on the project. The exhibition also features a slideshow of images featuring the structures in their original context which of course is lost in the recreation of these structures in a gallery. 

Images above, top Brunel estate, Paddington middle Churchill gardens Pimlico bottom Brownfield estate (Balfron tower) 

Of the three brutal playgrounds recreated at the RIBA exhibition only this one at the base of balfron tower by Goldfinger survives - however it no longer provides for its original purpose as the metal on the slide has been lost, a brutal playground in another sense of that word! Today it is left as a strange curiosity, in fact I couldn't work out what it was when I visited the brownfield estate.  
image - Guardian

After the exhibition I took the opportunity as I always do to wander around the RIBA building which retains many interesting original features, - although not brutalist - it is a building I love and is a very suitable home for the institution.

The bookshop is also one of the best for architecture and design - which should be expected! -. At the shop I picked up on the brutalist themed stand by the entrance the book (left) on the rise and demise of the Tricorn centre in Portsmouth, one of the early causalities of the race to destroy our brutalist heritage. I will be posting a full review of the book when I have finished, from my initial browse it is clearly an extensive account of the buildings history including the unsuccessful campaign to save it from Portsmouth council. The campaign itself is something anyone interested in preserving brutalism should study, so we can learn how to be successful in the future, as we were in saving Preston Bus station recently,one of the first real triumphs in saving a condemned brutalist building.

Also from the shop I bought two of the 'brutal London' models which I had previously been reluctant to pay the £6 postage! (from the company based in Poland =website= here) getting them for the bargain price of 4.99 (each)! I bought the Trellick tower and Robinhood gardens estate models as these were the most interesting models (and indeed buildings!)

Friday 5 June 2015

Facebook group for brutalism

Interesting new group for British examples of Brutalism on Facebook 
(Link here)