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Brutalism Exhibition: Living with Concrete – Culture

Saturday, February 10th, 2018 | bitcoin updates

The architectural history of the 20th century may only have one main route, but there are numerous byways. Brutalism is one of the secondary directions, and it is astonishing that after the battle for light, air and sun, which the modernist architects fought so vehemently, a direction arose in the late fifties, which was energetic and material intensive against everything light and airy resisted. Brutalism, which derives its name from the French term béton brut, raw or bare concrete, competed, in terms of time, with mass housing construction of the post – war period, which in fact did realize the demands of modernity for a broader population – however one did Of course, the multi-storey buildings on the Green Meadow can be architecturally or even socially rated. Of course, the multi-storey buildings of "Social Housing" are made of concrete; this is the given building material of the standardized construction, which in the east of Europe is really industrialized. Only raw, undisguised, with all the traces of its production in (mostly) wooden shuttering one did not appreciate it.There was a small group of architects who recognized in it the possibilities of a more sculptural design. It is not surprising that one of the formative buildings in brutalist style, the Vienna Trinity Church, was designed by a sculptor, Fritz Wotruba. In Cologne, there is a related, but more filigree example, the long time behind other buildings almost hidden church of "St. John XXIII. "By Josef Rikus, also a sculptor. The chameleon-like transformative Le Corbusier with his monastery building of La Tourette (1956-60), which became a type of temple-like buildings on high stilts with overhanging upper floors, was enormously influential. Its most important feature is the Boston City Hall by Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles (1962-69), apart from the architecture a rare example of urban renewal. A young generation likes the rough charm of the blocks. Brutalism found its true home in England. One may interpret it as meaning that the desolate post-war period, with its industrial decline, provoked such a rude counter-proposal as the brutalistic buildings portray it. On the other hand, just as a hopeful signal ensemble such as the South Bank Arts Center in London, whose first components in 1951 for the "Festival of Britain" and not yet emerged in brutalistic forms, was padded up over the years to a true stronghold.You just have to to see the backsides and backs of the buildings, with their back stairs and emergency exits, the delivery ramps and the National Theater's stage tower by Denys Lasdun (1964-76), to feel a downright hitchcock-like horror. The exhibition house of the Hayward Gallery, opened in 1968 by Norman Engleback, has just been renovated and enjoys a stormy influx.

Brutalist Architecture at the Suq Al-Muttaheda in Kuwait City (1973-79) by John S. Bonnington Partnership.DAM Frankfurt / Nelson GarridoIt may be a younger generation that did not have to grow up in brutalistic social housing any more the rough charm of the blocks. Accordingly, the exhibition of the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) is timely with the appellative title "Save the concrete monsters!" Provided. In Frankfurt, they know what they are talking about, after all, the Historical Museum, the Technical City Hall and the skyscraper of the Goethe University in the Westend have been demolished one after the other, the latter very stylish in 2014 through point-exact demolition. Like here, so also elsewhere: Unfollowed The message went around that some formative concrete buildings in India are denounced as "un-Hindu" and soon to disappear, and their appearance in gray concrete is probably interpreted as an additional increase of supposedly colonial origin. In fact, in the former British colonies and mandate areas, from Kuwait to Kenya to Pakistan or Australia, numerous, mostly trained in London native architects had fallen on the so infinitely malleable material Fallen. The eeriest Brutalismus construction stands in Berlin's Bizarre, the wealth of forms developed Concrete brutalist architecture in the Eastern Bloc, especially in the non-Russian Soviet republics. The exhibition shows truly wondrous structures on their cardboard walls and partition walls, from Romania to Georgia, which are likely to be interpreted as a rebellion against the industrial construction of the Kombinate. The trouble is that all these buildings are really ugly over the years. The allegedly eternal concrete crumbles in wind and weather, its rust-eaten inner life rusts. The models made for the exhibition, also made of cardboard, naturally conceal this gloomy aspect in their rough and beautiful appearance.

Berlin too has its brutalist heritage. At the top stands the House of Central Animal Laboratories of the Free University of Berlin, designed by Gerd Hänska in 1967, but finished only 14 years later. "The 'bunker of the mouse' with its cannon-like ventilation pipes" – it says in the exhibition – "is probably the scariest building of German post-war modernism." Such a superlative deserves to be earned. Rarely purpose and architectural form coincide so much as here, this epitome of purposely concealed abyss. But this is not predetermined for brutalism. On the other side of the sympathy scale is the leisure center, which Lina Bo Bardi conjured from a former factory in Sao Paulo. The Brazilian architect has been the showcase woman in the industry since her solo exhibition in Munich in 2014/15. As a visitor, she is delighted to see her again with the hyped building until she discovers Paul Virilio's concrete church in Nevers, France. Virilio has known about the Wehrmacht bunkers on the Atlantic Wall researched – and used their rounded, windowless forms 1963 just for a church. Yes, there are many abysses in this exhibition. The word "concrete monster" has more sense of purpose than one suspects at first. Frankfurt / Main, Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Schaumainkai 43, until 2 April. Catalog book at Park Books (Zurich), 2 vols 59 €. More at www.dam-online.de


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