I used to hate this architectural style with a passion. Just like other people, I thought it created nothing but monstrosities which oppressively sucked the life out of their surroundings. In fact, filmmakers love to use them as settings for evil corporations and dystopian future.
But, after reading some comments by the style’s admirers, I have changed my mind.
They remind me that architectural styles are also art styles and art works are meant to evoke certain emotions. So yes, brutalist buildings are works of art.
After seeing them as such, I have started to sincerely appreciated their beauty, not despite of their bleakness but because of it! I am one of those people who believe beauty does not have to be remotely positive; when it comes to aesthetics, negativity can be beautiful. I will come back to this later.
I have actually found brutalist buildings that I like. They are the works of Studio Granda and Tadao Ando.
While theirs are not categorised as brutalist, their grey concrete exteriors give them the appearances of ones. In fact, not only they are not oppressively lifeless, they also blend in with their surroundings! That’s because they are designed using the critical regional approach, which calls for simplicity and consideration of the physical and/or cultural environments; it is basically the respectful version of international style.
This makes me realise the problem is not on brutalism, it is on the implementation!
Remember my comment about the aesthetic beauty of negativity? It seems some people – particularly brutalism lovers – forget that architecture is not just an art form, it is also an applied discipline; it is meant to bring immediate and tangible practical benefits!
Maybe it is just me. But, even if my house is not the most beautiful ever, the least it can do is to not suck the joy out of me. Surely, there is nothing beneficial about not feeling at home in your own house.
As works of art, most brutalist buildings are a success due to their adroitness in engendering emotions, galvanising us into conceding that something can be monumentally alluring not despite of its despotic despondency but because of it.
As practical tools, they suck ass.
I do acknowledge that every single architectural style – even the classical ones – can be incongruous when there are no consideration for the locality and utilisation. But, at least, those buildings still provide some kind of liveliness, albeit not the kind we need.
Let’s be honest with ourselves: there are no architectural styles reviled like the way brutalism is.
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