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The Brutal Truth

Brutalist architecture developed from the 1950s to the mid-1970s. Key features of Brutalist buildings include imposing structures, angular shapes and the exposing of raw concrete and steel.

The building below, Habitat 67, is personally one of my fave brutalist pieces, it reminds me of the moving corridors in the Harry Potter films and is so unique and interesting.

Habitat 67, Montreal

The term brutalism originates from the French word béton brut, meaning raw concrete.

Brutalist architecture emerged after World War II. A lot of houses needed to be built as quickly as possible and concrete was an inexpensive material to use and functional for bigger buildings. Designers took an intrepid approach, using exposed materials to “tell it like it is”.

Le Corbusiers ‘Unite d’habitation’ embodies the movement, a residential tower, space efficient, the building has all features of the brutal movement, exposing the raw support materials such as steel and concrete, it has a more real and truthful rather than decorative approach.

Unité d'habitation​

Low building costs made the style popular with governments, universities and bigger buildings like shopping centres and large blocks of flats.

Studio 4 architecture is based in Harrogate, which is predominately Arts and Crafts, Victorian and Georgian style buildings with a lot of Sandstone around, but just a few miles down the road in the city of Leeds, the examples of brutalist architecture are breathtaking and a complete contrast to Harrogate.

With large buildings such as HSBC bank, Leeds university and the Yorkshire Evening Post, all encompassing the brutalist style of architecture with vast, solid and raw features, some of which can be seen from right across the city.

HSBC Bank, Leeds

The comparison in the different styles of architectures between Harrogate and Leeds is quite obvious to see, but incredible to think that there is only a few miles between the two and yet the contrast is so extensive.

In a previous blog "Getting crafty with Harrogate" you can see the arts and crafts buildings, which is a popular style within the town of Harrogate and can see just how different the style is to that of the City of Leeds down the road.

Dragon View, Harrogate

Leeds univeristy

Grosvenor Building, Harrogate

Brutalist architecture embodies ethics in architecture by creating affordable housing that still keeps a high design.

As brutalism gave way to the fancier styles in the 1980s, its harsh appearance became a symbol of a dystopian future.

Boston City Hall

Over the years these buildings have been ignored and neglected, but in recent times we have seen a come back start to appear in the movement.

Many brutalist buildings still exist today.

London Barbican

At Studio 4 Architecture in Harrogate we are big fans of the brutalist approach and what it represents.

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