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BLOG BEING UPDATED - TRY AGAIN LATER This blog records the controversial era of British architecture, 1960's Brutalism. Many Brutalist buildings have been demolished and many still are under threat

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Trip to RIBA

A couple of days ago I visited the RIBA for the exhibition -widely advertised- on 'brutalist playgrounds'. The exhibition recreates three significant post-war concrete playgrounds built to provide space for adventure and play for children living in the new council estates. 

The exhibition which is a collaboration between the artist Simon Terrill and the architecture collective 'Assemble' recreates the concrete structures in compressed foam allowing visitors to safely interact with the exhibition - provided they take off their shoes!

Although the exhibition does not give much information on the playgrounds there is an excellent booklet provided for the exhibition featuring a interview with the creators and some background information on the project. The exhibition also features a slideshow of images featuring the structures in their original context which of course is lost in the recreation of these structures in a gallery. 

Images above, top Brunel estate, Paddington middle Churchill gardens Pimlico bottom Brownfield estate (Balfron tower) 

Of the three brutal playgrounds recreated at the RIBA exhibition only this one at the base of balfron tower by Goldfinger survives - however it no longer provides for its original purpose as the metal on the slide has been lost, a brutal playground in another sense of that word! Today it is left as a strange curiosity, in fact I couldn't work out what it was when I visited the brownfield estate.  
image - Guardian

After the exhibition I took the opportunity as I always do to wander around the RIBA building which retains many interesting original features, - although not brutalist - it is a building I love and is a very suitable home for the institution.

The bookshop is also one of the best for architecture and design - which should be expected! -. At the shop I picked up on the brutalist themed stand by the entrance the book (left) on the rise and demise of the Tricorn centre in Portsmouth, one of the early causalities of the race to destroy our brutalist heritage. I will be posting a full review of the book when I have finished, from my initial browse it is clearly an extensive account of the buildings history including the unsuccessful campaign to save it from Portsmouth council. The campaign itself is something anyone interested in preserving brutalism should study, so we can learn how to be successful in the future, as we were in saving Preston Bus station recently,one of the first real triumphs in saving a condemned brutalist building.

Also from the shop I bought two of the 'brutal London' models which I had previously been reluctant to pay the £6 postage! (from the company based in Poland =website= here) getting them for the bargain price of 4.99 (each)! I bought the Trellick tower and Robinhood gardens estate models as these were the most interesting models (and indeed buildings!)


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