2015 - 2016 has been a treat for fans of Brutalist architecture. With Ben Wheatley's big screen vision of JG Ballard's 'High Rise', Jonathan Meade's two part 'Bunkers, Brutalism and Bloodymindedness' (see Vimeo) and the release of Barnabas Calder's book 'Raw Concrete' there has been a solid attempt to re-appraise the style. Calder goes as far as to say-
'I have slowly come to believe that these buildings not only match the architecture of any other period, but that they can win out'
His book argues that Brutalism has been our civilizations most optimistic and confident architecture. Wheatley's marvellous film (and the Ballard book), use the building as a cypher of UK society in the 70's much more than any criticism of the Brutalist style.
I love concrete, and also crystal clusters, so I am making a large drawing of a really vast residential complex based on the shape of crystals. I want to keep the shapes of the crystals and add as little else as possible.
In making a large image of a huge, sublime structure I arranged crystal clusters in three rows which are the forms I will draw. They lie on vast man made hills. Imagine the low points of the hills as roads that run low, underneath the structure. The buildings will lurch over the road at different angles. I will scale up from the model and from photos.
Next is a sketchbook before starting the poster sized image. These are to build up a set of ideas and a mood.
Whatever angle the building is at, the floors are all level.
I love dirty concrete!
No candidates suffering vertigo need apply for residence.
I still need to complete the sketches before I know what to do with the final drawing.
Below is the now demolished Sheffield Polytechnic Art Block C on Psalter Lane, it's Brutalist style had a big impact on me when I studied there in 1992. The internal studios were vast.
Another example of Sheffield's Brutalist Architecture now demolished. Kelvin Flats, where a friend lived in 1991, again I remember the maisonette was very large by the standards of recent housing. It had an long lounge room almost width of the block.
The recently demolished Castle Market in Sheffield.
Three survivors in the style, Sheffield University's Geography Department,
the sub-station at the bottom of the Moor.
The Magistrates court. Please send me any photos of Brutalist architecture near you!
Internationally my favorite examples are the Wotruba Church in Austria, for the randomness of the blocks.
And adding a little greenery never hurts, like here in Seattle.
Not sure where this is, but the foliage is a dream with the concrete, I will have to add to my final crystal buildings.