Bold, brash and confrontational, there can hardly be a more controversial – or misunderstood – architectural movement than Brutalism. Its very name is misleading, causing many to condemn its concrete creations for their apparent "brutality". Brutalism's etymology actually lies in the French béton-brut – literally "raw concrete" – the movement's signature material. But Brutalism was concerned with far more than materials, emerging in the early 1950s through dissatisfaction with existing forms of Modernism, from which it aimed to make a conscious departure while at the same time recapturing its original heroic spirit.The members of Black Sabbath grew up in Birmingham just after the Second World War, and will conclude the band's final tour there.
Britain's Second City Fights to Save Its Brutalist Architecture. But is it worth preserving? by Feargus O'Sullivan (City Lab)
In Birmingham, England, there’s a fight afoot to save some of the city’s most striking buildings from the wrecker’s hammer. The buildings’ defenders insist that current redevelopment plans are threatening a vital part of the U.K. city’s architectural heritage. This group may well be right (and their concern familiar from elsewhere), but the places they’re defending aren’t the most obvious pawns in a struggle over historic preservation.
None of the structures in question pre-date 1960, and all of them heavily feature concrete, that most reviled of building materials. That’s because Birmingham is the latest battleground in the worldwide debate over what is currently the 20th century’s most contested architectural style—Brutalism.
The library (below) has been demolished.