The Strange Appeal of Brutalist Architecture


For many years I’ve been fascinated by the brutalist architectural movement which peaked in the 1970s. It left behind many hulking, angular, monolithic structures that in my opinion have aged quite well.

Part of the reason why is that they’re so alien. They don’t identifiably belong in any one particular time period. They wouldn’t look out of place as far back as WW2, yet they also look vaguely futuristic no matter when they were built.

The other major reason I feel brutalism resonates with me is that it demands the person inhabiting the structure conform themselves to it, rather than the reverse. Brutalist buildings exist for their own sake, not ours, even if we happen to live there.

In a world where everybody can have every little thing customized to their particular tastes, it’s amusing and refreshing for a brutalist building to punch them in the face with a big fat NO. You’ll get concrete and like it.

It’s the antithesis of the modern culture of frivolity which gave us the fidget spinner and dabbing, every brutalist building instead radiating solemnity, gravity, continuity with the past and future, etc.

When I see a government building or bank in this style, it inspires trust. It makes me feel like it’s a brand/institution that will be around forever, though the abundance of Soviet brutalist architecture proved that perception wrong.

I like to imagine some day in the distant future, brutalist structures will be the only ones so solidly built that they’re still standing when alien archaeologists arrive to study the remains of human civilization. What mysterious badasses they’ll mistakenly think we were.

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