Pioneered in the 1950s, and embraced by a number of prominent architects in the 1960s, brutalism offered a marked, almost revolutionary, contrast to all that had gone before it. And, whether you see it as a celebration of an unpretentious and honest aesthetic, or an ugly grey carbuncle more suited to nuclear power stations, there is no denying that brutalism remains one of architecture’s most divisive styles.
But what is brutalism? And how did it come to be adapted for prominent arts buildings, such as here at Southbank Centre? To gain an insight into brutalist architecture we spoke to Richard Battye, Project Architect for Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, and lead architect on the recently completed restoration of our own brutalist venues; Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery.
A Child's Guide to Brutalism, a new display on brutalist architecture, for both children and adults, can be experienced in our Archive Studio until 1 July.
To celebrate the reopening of Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, Dr. Otto Saumarez Smith, Shuffrey Junior Research Fellow in Architectural History at Lincoln College, University of Oxford, took a closer look at the history and architecture of these brutalist icons.