Art, Technology, and Circumstance: The Development of New Brutalism


This article discusses the divisive architectural style of New Brutalism, which was developed in European cities in the 1950s and 60s, and asks whether or not our current planning capabilities would have, had they been available at that time, prevented its rise. Had governments and their architects had the capability to use 3D CAD (computer-aided design) or BIM (building information modeling), would they have invented a different, perhaps more indulgent sort of style for the postwar period? Or, was New Brutalism itself a creative choice rather than a utilitarian one, a conscious, definitive break with European architectural style and tradition of the past in the wake of a destructive European war?


One thought on “Art, Technology, and Circumstance: The Development of New Brutalism

  1. Thanks for the interesting article. An exhibit of brutalist architecture organized by the Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt just closed in Vienna. The exhibition books are worth the price for those who can’t visit the exhibit.

    Their focus was more the the solitary buildings rather than those with highly repetitive forms, more administration and culture than apartments. In the exhibited examples, artistic agency is more prominent than technologic efficiency. I think it is good that the more artistic building were made, and I often wish that current buildings w/could be more adventurous. At the same time, I would suggest that a focus just on efficiency tends to produce mean spirited spaces that are then often poorly treated, exacerbating the problems.

    If better computer systems were present, what would the architects of the time have done differently? Perhaps thermal considerations. Better structural calculations for more extreme forms. I doubt the social aspects that we now associate with these projects would be different.

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