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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

Brutalism: The argument for preservation

A hard sell perhaps, below are some of the arguments for the preservation of Brutalist architecture against those who dismiss them as 'eyesores': 

1. The wide spread demolition of brutalist buildings can be compared to the wide spread demolition of Victorian buildings in the 1960's. They were both attacked as they were out of favour and because it was the work of the previous generation. However attitudes changed in the 1960's due of the influence of campaigners such as John Betjeman who highlighted there importance, there is nothing to say that attitudes won't change now towards Brutalist architecture. The dislike of brutalist buildings or in fact any building style is just a cycle that will eventually fade, however peoples attitudes cannot be changed if these buildings have already been demolished by planners ridding their towns of their 'eyesores'. It is therefore vital that these buildings are prevented from being demolished (at least in the short-term) until attitudes towards them do change, as they inevitably will. 

2. Brutalist buildings are also an important part of our architectural heritage, just as much as a Georgian town house or Tudor manor house they represent the age in which they were built and should not be wiped from history. Even if they are 'eyesores' some at the very least should be preserved so that future generations can experience the brutalist buildings which make up a important part of the history and evolution of architecture rather than only being able to experience them by old pictures.    

3. Often Brutalist buildings are of high quality design and finish, it has been the lack of investment over the last 50 years has made them look dirty, tired and led to anti-social behavior. These factors should not mean demolition is the only opinion, they should be modernised and have the investment which they have required for the last 50 years. 

4. Often Brutalist buildings are statements of civil pride which become landmarks in their cities. These buildings can encourage tourism to the city. I can't be the only person who has gone to some of the most bold statements of brutalism (Preston Bus station) to see what all the fuss is about. It certainly attracts more tourists than the empty space which gives the city a negative feel or a modern replacement which is normally lack any character or distinguishing features. 

Finally, there is not an arguing for retaining all Brutalist buildings of which many are no longer fit for purpose or needs large amount of investment to bring them up to modern standards. However the most significance and some of the most important examples should and must be preserved for future generations who may appreciate them more than most do today. A William Morris quote sums up this line of argument: 'These old buildings do not belong to us only.. they have belong to our forefathers and they will belong to our descendants, unless we play them false. They are not our property, to do as we like with. We are only trustees for those who come after us' (1889). 

last updated January 2014 

2 comments:

  1. We should not be demolishing Brutalist buildings. There will be a day where the opinion will change!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Indeed, I'm confident that day is nearing, however it may be too late for some of the best examples of brutalist (Robinhood gardens, Birmingham central library) and is already too late for many other examples!

    ReplyDelete

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