Whilst one could argue that Brutalism is the quintessential example of an acquired taste when considering the various architectural approaches employed in the UK throughout recent history, one could not disagree that its impact has been significant. Its presence is felt strongly today despite the demolition of many buildings native to its aesthetic characteristics, technological approach and fundamentally its ideology.
To investigate the architectural style, the intentions, the philosophy, the routes of the term can not be disregarded, however this endeavour can be somewhat convoluted. When exploring the characteristics of brutalism as a movement, one can seek to study projects and their successes, however when attempting to conclude the source of its growth, one may encounter ambiguity from the outset. The study begins to investigate the source of the term ‘Brutalism’ by painting a picture of the modernist landscape which formed the backdrop to its growth and attempts to reveal the fundamental CIAM principles which are ever-present at the heart of all ‘brutalist’ works.
The works of the ‘independent group’ and the ‘as found’ philosophy are subjects of great interest within the study enabling key contributors to the movement through the mediums of art, writings and of course built and unbuilt architectural works to be identified along with their influence upon the forthcoming works of others throughout the 1950s, 60s and even into the 70s. The public perception of brutalism is discussed within the study as the judgement of its success however, the circumstances by which many of the projects deemed to be ‘brutalist’ came to fruition are carefully considered.
The social, economic and political landscape of post war Britain provided an exciting opportunity for young architects to express a new way of thinking, however the study also raises the argument that it was these very same exogenous factors ultimately led to the downfall of many built examples and not necessarily its architectural merit.