Brutalism

In England, Le Courbusier’s influence led to a local style, known as Brutalism. The name comes from béton brut, the French for raw concrete. Nothing to do with brutal. The style was named by the architects Peter and Alison Smithson, who designed the Robin Hood Gardens estate in Poplar, east London.

Key features of brutalism are:

  • concrete construction, rather than bricks, steel and glass
  • heavily textured surfaces
  • heavy sculptural forms
  • highwalks between buildings, linking blocks of flats, intended to be where people could meet and childern could play safely
  • monumentalism in a modern take on Gothic.

Apart from the Barbican Estate, other famous examples of Brutalism are:

  • Trellick Tower in North Kensington designed by Erno Goldfinger
  • The National Theatre on the South Bank
  • The University of East Anglia

Brutalism also influenced mid-20th century furniture.